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Former cop charged with exposing himself to colleague at Sunshine station

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A former police officer has faced court after being charged with sexually touching a then colleague without her consent as she sat at a desk at Sunshine police station.

Former senior constable Mohamed Saleh was charged in March after his alleged victim publicly slammed Victoria Police’s handling of the case, and accused investigators of pressuring her to withdraw her complaint.

Mohamed Saleh (right) in 2014 with the then Chief Commissioner of Police, Ken Lay.

Saleh appeared in Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Thursday to face one count of sexual touching without consent for allegedly exposing his penis to the woman, who was an unsworn intelligence officer, in December 2020.

He then allegedly forced her hand onto his penis while using a folder to conceal the act from other colleagues in the office, according to her sworn statement to police on December 17, 2020.

Saleh was suspended on February 12, 2021, but received full pay for a year until he resigned in February 2022.

However, a criminal charge was only laid by the force in March after the alleged victim revealed to The Age that she had been warned by two sergeants handling the investigation that her own conduct would be brought into question if she proceeded with the complaint.

She was then asked to sign a pre-prepared statement saying she did not want the matter criminally investigated, which she said she signed in a “state of shock”.

Last year, the woman initiated legal proceedings against Victoria Police in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), while the station’s handling of her complaint in 2021 is being investigated by the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission.

“[A detective sergeant] stated that he [the senior constable] was less likely to take it personally if she did not pursue criminal charges and that also, not pursuing criminal charges would be in the interest of the reputation of Victoria Police,” the VCAT documents say.

The alleged victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told The Age in November last year that she was deeply traumatised by the alleged incident. She said the force’s handling of an internal inquiry had exacerbated her mental health condition.

“I want him to be held to account and face due process like anyone else would. This kind of thing shouldn’t be happening anywhere, let alone by the people who are supposed to be investigating crimes,” she said.

“They [police investigators] made it clear that they didn’t want me to continue with it because it was a bad look, and I’ve told them again and again that I wanted him charged.”

A series of emails and an audio recording obtained by The Age confirm the woman repeatedly asked for a criminal investigation to proceed, saying she was prepared to give evidence at a trial.

“No, I wanted him to lose his job right from the start. That guy should not have a gun. So, that was definitely clear. And I also said I’d co-operate in a criminal trial, but I didn’t want to push it because of the anxiety,” she told an investigator from the Salus taskforce, which investigates sexual assault allegations, in January 2022.

Saleh’s barrister did not enter a plea on his client’s behalf on Thursday, and the case was adjourned until August.

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