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.