16 August 2021

Rapist found guilty after blaming 16-year-old girl for arousing him

| Albert McKnight
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ACT Law Courts

Habib Atai, 27, from Phillip, has been found guilty of charges that include sexual intercourse without consent. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

WARNING: This story contains graphic descriptions of sexual assault.

A man raped a teen girl about 10 years his junior after she refused to have sex with him when he undressed in front of her, saying: “You made me horny, and that’s not right.”

Justice David Mossop, who held a judge-alone trial in the ACT Supreme Court in July before publishing his judgement for 27-year-old Habib Atai’s case in August, said the 16-year-old girl had given a detailed interview to police in April last year.

She said she met a teenage friend over Snapchat and agreed to hang out with him at Westfield Woden in January 2020, but he unexpectedly brought along an older man.

This man, Atai, claimed he was 18. He was actually 25.

They drove to Atai’s apartment before she said the friend told her he wanted to have a nap and left the room.

Being with Atai made her feel uncomfortable, and she told him she didn’t want him to touch her.

She went to sit in her friend’s room, but he got up, said he wanted to go out to get cash and left her alone with Atai.

After the friend left, she said Atai made more comments like “let’s just do it”. He dragged a mattress into the living room, picked her up and put her on it. Ignoring her protests, he raped her.

The girl said her friend came back into the apartment as soon as Atai finished. She said he was “apparently … outside and … like, heard us”.

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She went home and cried in her bathroom.

On 13 July, the girl’s father told the Supreme Court his daughter, who was in Year 11, spoke to him on 2 February 2020 and detailed what had happened.

“He was touching her as well. She said all of her body,” her father said.

He alleged that when his daughter’s friend returned to the apartment, he had asked her: “Did you like it?”

“She was very upset. She’s a special girl,” the father said.

“She was crying.”

He put the shirt she had been wearing during the rape into a plastic bag so it could be used as evidence. A forensic biologist linked DNA on the shirt to Atai.

Atai was arrested at the Horbury Street apartment he rented in Phillip on 8 May 2020. He was interviewed with the help of a Farsi interpreter where he gave his version of events.

He agreed the girl had arranged to meet up with their mutual friend.

“[The friend] was telling me that he doesn’t like her and if I want, I can become friends with her … I was single at the time and I felt sorry for the girl,” he said.

He said after they got home, they started kissing and he took off his clothes. She said she didn’t want to go any further, although he told her he was aroused and it wasn’t right not to proceed with sexual activity.

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Atai also told police he had asked the teen to be his girlfriend, although he didn’t want to date her “forever”.

“I just want her to be my girlfriend for, like, a few months after that,” he said.

Justice Mossop found the girl to be a “very credible witness” and that the friend, who was 16 when he gave evidence, was unreliable.

“He gave the strong impression that he was attempting to minimise his involvement with any perceived wrongdoing that had occurred at the premises,” Justice Mossop said.

He found Atai had a sense of entitlement, shown by how he had complained about the girl refusing to have sex with him after he’d taken off his clothes and blaming her.

Justice Mossop found Atai guilty of an act of indecency without consent, attempted sexual intercourse without consent and sexual intercourse without consent.

Atai will appear again in court at a later date.

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 is also available through The Canberra Rape Crisis Centre 02 6247 2525, The Domestic Violence Crisis Service ACT 02 6280 0900, and Lifeline: 13 11 14. In an emergency call 000.

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Hopefully he will get a suitable punishment that will also send a message to other entitled scum.

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