Australian Capital Territory, National, News

Sex worker rape verdict raises need for law review

A Canberra man has been jailed over the rape of two sex workers, drawing attention to issues that advocates say must be addressed by law reform.

Krystian Mynott, a former actor who had been featured in Australian Capital Territory Government advertising, was found guilty of raping two male escorts via fraud.

Mynott, 42, used a fake name and stolen credit card details to fly the interstate workers to him in 2017, before refusing to pay them, ABC News has reported.

In addition to covering their expenses, he promised to pay each worker over $1,500.

“After each episode of sex, he did not pay,” said Chief Justice Helen Murrell.

“Each offence was associated with significant planning — he did not reveal his real name and financed their expenses using the credit card details of a third party.

“The sexual consent given was negated because it had been caused by fraudulent misrepresentations.”

A victim impact statement read to the court revealed that one of the escorts had become depressed after the rape, feeling “upset and betrayed”.

“I couldn’t pay rent or buy food and I had to ask friends for money,” the statement read.

“This was awful.”

Mynott was sentenced to three years and four months of jail time for the rapes but will be eligible for parole next December.

Jules Kim, CEO of the Australian sex worker association Scarlet Alliance, said that the sex worker community welcomed the “recognition that sex without consent is unacceptable, regardless of your occupation”.

“The fact that a person is a sex worker does not of itself constitute consent to any sex act,” Kim told Pink Advocate.

She said that inconsistent laws, stigma, discrimination, and myths often lead to crimes against sex workers not being taken seriously.

“Within the criminal justice system there has been a perception that it is not possible to rape a sex worker,” Kim said.

“We are human beings deserving of the same rights and protections.

“There is a dire need for consistent decriminalisation of sex work throughout Australia so all sex workers are able to acess those rights.”

The case is the second in the Australian Capital Territory where non-payment of sex services has been ruled to be rape.

Laws regarding sex work vary around Australia.

In Queensland, the issue is set to be part of an upcoming legal review.

Janelle Fawkes of Queensland peer sex worker organisation Respect Inc and the DecrimQLD campaign welcomed the verdict.

“Sex workers consent to sex with clients under a set of negotiated conditions,” Fawkes said.

“Consent in a sex work context is reliant on payment.

“It is likely consent would not have been given unless there was payment, and if the sexual consent given by a sex worker is negated, it becomes rape.

“We welcome a greater awareness by the courts of consent in a sex work context.

“This ruling is a significant and important shift.”

She added that a report by the Queensland Law Reform Commission has noted that current laws detrimentally impact sex workers’ experiences with criminal justice.

“The criminalisation of many aspects of sex work in Queensland makes us as sex workers reluctant to report crime, as it means you are also making yourself known to police,” Fawkes said.

“In most cases, sex workers who have tried to report rape have had police ridicule their experiences.

“Decriminalisation of sex work is desperately needed to shift this cycle where police relentlessly target sex workers for petty charges, often using entrapment, yet won’t act when we try to report serious crime in Queensland.”

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