26 November 2021

'What's really going on?': doubts raised over police officer accused of forcing woman to touch his genitals

| Albert McKnight
Ivan Bruno Kovacic

Ivan Bruno Kovacic, 52, leaving court earlier this year. Photo: Albert McKnight.

WARNING: This story contains graphic descriptions of an alleged sexual assault.

The lawyer representing an Australian Federal Police officer accused of forcing a woman to touch his genitals questioned the reliability of witnesses as the case’s hearing ended, asking, “what really was going on here?”

Ivan Bruno Kovacic, 52, is fighting a charge of committing an act of indecency without consent in a hearing that began in the ACT Magistrates Court in October.

The court heard he met the woman, aged in her 20s, in his apartment complex near Glebe Park in November 2019, and she and two of her colleagues eventually went back to his unit.

Mr Kovacic allegedly made racist comments and touched one of the woman’s male colleagues on his genitals, then punched this man in the face.

The woman said her colleague punched him back, causing him to slump against the wall and leaving “blood everywhere”.

She alleged she took Mr Kovacic to his bed and wiped the blood off him, but he tried to kiss her, repeatedly pulled her hand onto his penis, then pulled her on top of him.

“He kept trying to pull my pants down and [was] getting upset because he couldn’t,” the woman alleged.

During closing submissions on Thursday (25 November), Tim Sharman from Tim Sharman Solicitors said something was amiss when it came to the chronology of the allegations, and the version of events given during the hearing by the woman and her colleagues “don’t sit [right]”.

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He said none of the others heard the colleague “cry foul” when Mr Kovacic apparently touched his genitals. Also, after this man punched the accused, he was seen on closed-circuit television (CCTV) walking around intoxicated and punching a wall.

Magistrate Louise Taylor also questioned the behaviour of the colleague. She said CCTV showed how he acted towards the woman after the alleged assault was “almost bizarre”, such as how he appeared to be “almost monstering her” by standing over her.

However, prosecutor Katrina Marson said there was a point in the footage where the man appeared to move from anger to concern towards the woman.

While the woman said her group felt uncomfortable when they arrived in Mr Kovacic’s unit, Magistrate Taylor said they could just have told him they didn’t want to go back to his place.

“There was no reason for them to push past the discomfort,” she said.

But Ms Marson said one of the colleagues had told the court he thought they were still having a good time when they went to the unit, while the woman also said she went there because she didn’t want to be rude.

The woman claimed that after wiping the blood off Mr Kovacic, he pulled her on top of him, but Magistrate Taylor said there was “not even a smear of blood on her shorts”, which was “curious”.

However, Ms Marson said when it came to the issue of why there was no blood recorded as being on the woman, all they had was a photo of her shorts. Her clothes had not been examined for blood.

“There’s no evidence there was no blood,” she said.

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Mr Sharman said he did not have to point to what happened, but suggested all the aspects he mentioned should make Magistrate Taylor consider “what really was going on here?”

He said there was “ample basis for reasonable doubt”.

But Ms Marson said the suggestion the woman lied was at odds with the way she gave evidence. She said at one point during the hearing it was put to the woman that the allegations didn’t happen.

“She appeared almost weary when she said ‘it did happen sir’,” she said.

Magistrate Taylor has reserved her decision until 15 December.

The AFP has previously said it would not comment on whether Mr Kovacic was still a member of the police force or not because the matter was before the courts.

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, and Lifeline 13 11 14. In an emergency call 000.

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