6 September 2022

More alleged victims of ex-climbing coach Stephen Mitchell come forward

| Albert McKnight
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Man in mask leaving court with his lawyer

Stephen Leonard Mitchell (left) leaves court with his lawyer, Peter Woodhouse, on Monday. Photo: Albert McKnight.

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

The number of alleged victims in the case against former rock climbing coach Stephen Leonard Mitchell has increased, with seven people now accusing him of child sex offences.

Mr Mitchell is accused of grooming, sexual conduct with children outside of Australia, as well as engaging in sexual activity with children between 1994 and 2005.

ACT Policing said two more alleged victims have come forward since he was handed updated charges in July, bringing the total to seven. The 56-year-old now faces a total of 26 charges.

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These include the nine fresh charges that were mentioned in the ACT Magistrates Court on Monday (5 September). There were five counts of committing an act of indecency on a person under 16, one count of committing an act of indecency without consent and three counts of knowingly giving false or misleading information.

Police allegedly discovered that during their investigation, Mr Mitchell had been employed by several government departments and obtained his security clearance by making false and misleading statements.

The charges were not read out to Mr Mitchell in court, but the court did hear the date for one count of allegedly making a false and misleading statement related to January 2019.

Prosecutor Beth Morrisroe asked for the matter to be adjourned for some time for the brief of evidence to be prepared and for Mr Mitchell’s lawyer, Peter Woodhouse of Aulich, to get across it.

She said all complainants had been spoken to that she was aware of.

Magistrate Louise Taylor continued Mr Mitchell’s bail, varied it to add the names of two people to its conditions and adjourned the matter to 25 October.

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In February 2022, Mr Mitchell was arrested 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.

In July, he was handed 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.

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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