A woman who was raped by a Brisbane dentist has told a court how his despicable behaviour has, and continues to harm her.
A woman who was raped by a Brisbane dentist has told a court how his despicable behaviour has, and continues to harm her.

Victim’s extraordinary words as she confronts rapist in courtroom

She was sitting just metres from the rapist who, in her own words, stole her trust in humanity.

The woman, who was raped by retired dentist Peter James Agnew, stared down her attacker for 10 minutes at Brisbane District Court yesterday to deliver a courageous statement “for all the girls who don’t have a voice”.

Agnew was sentenced to seven years’ jail for his attacks on the 19-year-old dental nurse at a Stafford clinic almost 40 years ago.

Dentist Peter Agnew was found guilty of rape and indecent assault during a trial in Brisbane District Court. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Sarah Marshall
Dentist Peter Agnew was found guilty of rape and indecent assault during a trial in Brisbane District Court. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Sarah Marshall


The attacks you made on me 40 years ago have negatively impacted and influenced every aspect of my life. I have always remembered everything up until the indecent assault.

My brain protected me from confronting the trauma of the rape from 36 years ago.

However that trauma did manifest itself immediately. First as panic attacks, then as depression and anxiety.

PTSD struck four and a half years ago when I reported your crimes to police. Something I struggle with daily.

In 1980, I was sharing a flat with two other teenage girls. It was such a happy time. The girls and I shared amazing adventures together and I was in a committed relationship.

My boyfriend and I loved the beach and surfing and each other. We optimistically made plans for our future together. I was living a great life. You took that from me too.

I telephoned you the day after you raped me in 1980 to tell you that I’d gotten another job and I was not coming back to work for you.

I didn’t have another job. I was terrified. The fact that I made that phone call to you in and of itself speaks to the authority that you held over me as my employer at the time.

I moved to Mount Isa with my sister in January of 1981 leaving my boyfriend behind and giving him no explanation as to why. I’ve not seen or spoken to him again.

I’ve always punished myself for hurting him so badly and never having the opportunity to explain.

He was another casualty of your behaviour.

When the police conducted the covert recording of our meeting in 2016 I asked you why you had targeted me. I carried an enormous amount of shame and guilt about that and I couldn’t understand, why me?

Why did you groom, attack and ultimately rape me?

The answer to that question was found when I was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

I have difficulty in reading social cues and recognising when I am in a dangerous situation. I had the answer to my question ‘why me?’

Simply because I did not understand the warning signs.

Being neuro-diverse means that I am vulnerable to predators but it also gives me an extraordinary memory.

I am able to recall details that may bypass neuro- typicals.

You felt so confident in your superiority that you thought you could get away with no one ever knowing about your crimes.

You stole my trust in humanity and my children suffered for it. By not being able to enjoy common teenage freedoms because I know better than most that monsters hide in plain sight.

I was a hypervigilant and protective parent. I was also fiercely protective of my staff throughout my career because I was their boss and that was a big part of my job.

In 2015 I was fortunate to be in receipt of an attractive salary package due to my seniority and experience and I was earning a six-figure salary and various other benefits.

I’ve not been employed since August 2015 and to date am subsisting on a disability support pension for which I am grateful.

In the last four and a half years I have lost potential income in excess of $650,000 and have subsequently become a reluctant burden on our welfare system.

I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I will never work again. My work was not only my livelihood, it was also a place of great friendships and camaraderie.

My pride and self worth were an intrinsic part of my valued standing within the business community and the wider community as manager, employee, colleague and friend. I have lost and grieved for that part of my life.

My relationship with my former partner was yet another casualty to your crimes. We parted ways as he found it difficult to cope with how my PTSD affected our relationship.

I rarely left the house, we had separate bedrooms and our interaction had devolved into more of a housemates arrangement. The last of my savings went into putting security grills onto all of the windows in the tiny rental cottage that is all I can afford to live in on my disability pension.

I live in constant fear. I take sleeping pills every night to avoid the inevitable nightmares.

My German Shepherd sleeps at the foot of my bed and I wear earplugs to curb my hypervigilance in order to try to have unbroken sleep.

This is my life now.

I hope that this statement helps you to understand the enormity of the impact of what you did to me and continues to have on my life.

Today I am taking all of the shame and guilty I have carried all these years and I am placing where it belongs, with you.

It is now yours to carry, and be aware, it is a heavy burden.

My wish for you is that you may gain some much-needed humility from your personal experience of your powerlessness and finally be held accountable for your despicable predatory, criminal behaviour.

I’m doing this for all of the girls who don’t have a voice.

  • Please note, some of the statement has been omitted to help protect the identity of the victim.

*For 24-hour sexual violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.

*For 24-hour support in Queensland phone DVConnect on 1800 811 811, MensLine on 1800 600 636 or the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732.

Originally published as Victim’s extraordinary words as she confronts rapist in courtroom