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South Australian magistrate Simon Milazzo removed from office over sexual harassment

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A South Australian magistrate has been removed from office over the sexual harassment of four women who worked with him.

A report by a judicial conduct panel tabled in state parliament on Thursday found he engaged in inappropriate conduct with sexual connotations relating to the women over a number of years.

Attorney-General Kyam Maher has told state parliament’s upper house that Simon Milazzo was removed from office on Thursday after a number of inquiries.

Mr Milazzo, 68, has been suspended with pay since the allegations came to light last year.

Mr Maher said a panel that included a former judge and prominent doctor found his actions were not consistent with his position and his removal was justified.

He said the women involved were all in a subordinate position to the magistrate at the time.

“From the date the first complaint was made to now was complex and lengthy,” Mr Maher said.

“I have no doubt that the process was difficult for the complainants and witnesses.

“Their courage and persistence throughout this process deserves acknowledgement.”

Chief Magistrate Mary-Louise Hribal said she was “very sorry” that the women “have been harmed by the conduct of a magistrate of this court”.

“Whilst I have not yet met with all of the victims, I would like to listen to, and learn from, what they have to say, if they wish to speak with me,” she said.

Chief Justice Chris Kourakis said: “Bullying, harassment, discrimination or victimisation of any kind cannot be tolerated.”

Complaints detailed in report
The first woman whose complaint is detailed in the report said Mr Milazzo made remarks about her being a lesbian and that she should be with a man.

Another woman said Mr Milazzo approached her from behind and told her to “confess your sins to me”.

He also asked whether her partner could “fulfil” her despite her being tall.

A third woman said Mr Milazzo sat on her “knee and thigh and touched her left shoulder and neck as if to massage it”.

An IT support officer said Mr Milazzo wanted her to come to his house, while a cleaner said Mr Milazzo “took a shine” to her and would make comments about her breasts.

The panel said the behaviour was “not consistent with the magistrate’s obligation to uphold the status and reputation of the judiciary”.

“It is precisely the type of conduct that a reasonable, fair-minded member of the public would perceive as likely to diminish public confidence in, and respect for, the judicial office,” it said.

It said Mr Milazzo “has not expressed any genuine remorse in respect of the three most serious allegations and has in effect denied outright any improper conduct in the form of sexual harassment in relation to either of those witnesses”.

It said his removal was justified.

Mr Milazzo was diagnosed with autism after being suspended but the panel decided it did not mitigate his level of responsibility.

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