28 October 2022

Eighth person accuses ex-rock climbing coach Stephen Mitchell of alleged sexual abuse

| Albert McKnight

Stephen Leonard Mitchell approaches the Canberra courts on Tuesday. Photo: Albert McKnight.

CONTENT WARNING: This story includes details of alleged childhood sexual abuse.

The number of complainants in the case against former rock climbing coach Stephen Leonard Mitchell has increased once again. There are now eight people accusing him of abuse.

The news comes amid a Canberra court also hearing lawyers intended to try to resolve the matter.

Mr Mitchell has previously been accused of grooming, sexual conduct with children outside of Australia, and engaging in sexual activity with children between 1994 and 2005.

He now faces over 30 charges, an increase from the 26 charges and seven complainants in the case when it was heard in court last month.

On Tuesday (25 October), ACT Policing said additional sexual assault charges were laid after an eighth alleged child victim spoke with police.

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They said three new charges connected to the eighth complainant related to alleged acts of indecency against a young person under 16 years of age, while one additional charge related to a previously identified complainant.

Peter Woodhouse of Aulich, Mr Mitchell’s lawyer, sought an adjournment in the ACT Magistrates Court on Tuesday, partly because he said the legal parties aimed to “sit down and try and resolve the matter”.

He said it was a “particularly complex” case involving a number of complainants and there was value in another adjournment.

Man in a suit walking

Stephen Leonard Mitchell faces over 30 charges. Photo: Albert McKnight.

Prosecutor Beth Morrisroe asked to vary the 56-year-old’s bail to add the name of the person who was the subject of the new charges to be added to its conditions.

The bail variation was granted, bail was continued and the matter was adjourned to 29 November by Magistrate James Lawton, but the new charges were not read out to Mr Mitchell, with the magistrate saying he would wait until the next occasion to do so.

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His charges include maintaining a sexual relationship with a young person, sexual intercourse with a person under 16, committing an act of indecency on a person under 16, committing an act of indecency in the presence of a person under 16 and committing an indecent act with a child under 16 while overseas.

He also faces charges of giving false or misleading information.

Mr Mitchell has pleaded not guilty to some charges, while pleas haven’t been entered to others.

If this story has raised any concerns for you, 1800RESPECT, the national 24-hour sexual assault, family and domestic violence counselling line, can be contacted on 1800 737 732. Help and support are also available through the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre 02 6247 2525, the Domestic Violence Crisis Service ACT 02 6280 0900, Lifeline 13 11 14, the Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 and Kids Helpline 1800 551 800. In an emergency, call 000.

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