22 July 2022

Former rock climbing coach Stephen Mitchell handed more child sex charges

| Albert McKnight

Stephen Leonard Mitchell, 56, leaving court earlier this year. Photo: Albert McKnight.

Content warning: this story includes details of alleged childhood sexual abuse.

A former rock climbing coach has been accused of further child sex offences and is now facing a total of 17 charges.

Stephen Leonard Mitchell, 56, appeared in the ACT Magistrates Court on Monday (18 July) where he was handed the extra 10 charges.

Earlier this year, ACT Policing said an investigation had begun into his alleged grooming, trafficking and sexual activity with children and teenagers involved in sports programs in the Territory between 1994 and 2005.

In July 2021, police were told Mitchell allegedly tried to groom a girl between 1994 and 1999.

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Police learned of more allegations of offences against several other complainants, including alleged offences committed in Australia and overseas.

Mitchell was arrested in Holt in February 2022 and charged with five counts of committing acts of indecency on a young person – which were allegedly committed against three complainants – as well two counts of committing acts of indecency with a person under 16, which was allegedly against one complainant while overseas.

He pleaded not guilty.

Since then, police have received more information to support more charges for alleged offences against the initial complainants, while another complainant has also come forward.

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These fresh charges are four counts of committing an act of indecency in the presence of a person under 16 years, four counts of sexual intercourse with a child under 16 and two counts of maintaining a sexual relationship with a young person. No pleas were entered.

Magistrate Louise Taylor did not read out the new charges, continued Mitchell’s bail and adjourned the matter to 5 September.

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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