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No show from disbarred lawyer in appeal case

Monday 7 November 2022 | Written by Caleb Fotheringham | Published in Court, National

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No show from disbarred lawyer in appeal case
Wilkie Rasmussen. 18031102

Disbarred lawyer and former Cabinet Minister Wilkie Rasmussen failed to appear for his case at the Court of Appeal on Friday.

Rasmussen was attempting to appeal against the decision to strike him off the Cook Islands roll of barrister and solicitors.

Cook Islands News has not received anything from the court on Rasmussen’s non-appearance.

Cook Islands Law Society which was opposing Rasmussen’s appeal was at the hearing.

Rasmussen’s name was struck off in a decision made on April 11 in the High Court at Avarua where he was found guilty on two acts of indecent assault and for perverting the course of justice by Judge Peter Woodhouse in the middle of last year.

Rasmussen was fined a total of $7000 for all three charges, $2500 for each indecent assault and $2000 for perverting the course of justice.

In the decision to strike him off the Cook Islands roll of barrister and solicitors – released to Cook Islands News by the Cook Islands Law Society in April – Chief Justice Sir Hugh Williams said: “Mr Rasmussen has failed to discharge his professional duties with ‘unquestionable integrity, probity and trustworthiness’.”

“He has been dishonest. He has engaged in criminal conduct. He has been convicted of three serious offences. He has breached his statutory duty as an officer of the Court. He has also breached the Code of Ethics by failing to maintain the honour and dignity of the profession and abstain from behavior discrediting it, plus not maintaining due respect toward the Court. He has abused the trust the public is entitled to have in the legal profession.”

When sentenced in August 2021, the court heard Rasmussen in July, 2020 asked a 22-year-old woman into his office where he indecently assaulted her twice.

While at the office, he kissed the victim and forced his tongue into her mouth twice after she refused Rasmussen’s offer of sex.

Rasmussen also pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice. The court heard Rasmussen told a family member of the victim he would sue the complainant if he won the trial.