It was one word said three times, but Kim Elzaibak had waited decades to hear it and couldn’t stop her tears.
Ms Elzaibak watched on a video link on Wednesday as her former stepfather, Robert Scott, pleaded guilty in Melbourne Magistrates Court to sexually abusing her when she was a young girl in the 1970s.
Sexual assault survivor Kim Elzaibak.Credit:Joe Armao
Scott was a police officer and in a relationship with Ms Elzaibak’s mother when he abused her daughter between 1972 and 1978 at their home near Wangaratta, when the girl was aged between three and nine.
Ms Elzaibak put her head down and cried when she heard Scott, 89, say “guilty” to each of the three representative charges of indecent assault as he sat at a table in custody, with a walking frame behind him.
Robert Scott when dressed as a town crier in the UK.
“It was huge, it was huge,” Ms Elzaibak told The Age.
“Having those charges read out, and to actually hear his voice, and not his lawyer, say ‘I am guilty’ to each of the charges, it was profound.
“It gives me reassurance that this definitely wasn’t made up, it wasn’t part of my imagination. This was a validation.”
Wednesday’s short hearing was the latest significant development in Ms Elzaibak’s fight for justice that began when she reported Scott’s crimes to police in 2000. But because Scott had moved to England years earlier, Victorian police believed at the time there was no chance of interviewing him and dropped the investigation.
The case was reopened in 2013, but Scott was not charged until 2017. He then had to be extradited from Britain, a process he fought.
He was finally flown to Melbourne last year, after British judges approved extradition and criticised the investigative delays by Victorian police.
A court sketch of Robert Scott.Credit:Nine News
Ms Elzaibak had planned to sue Victoria Police over the delays in the investigation, but she said the legal fight left her exhausted, and she would now prefer to put her energy into working with police to improve the way they handle historic abuse cases, from a victim’s perspective.
“It’s been 21 years and 40 days since [signing her original statement to police]. I’d wanted him to say ‘guilty’,” said the mother of three, who was previously granted a court order allowing her to identify as a victim of sex assault.
“It’s been an excruciating journey. Moving forward, if I can put any part of that timeframe to good use, instead of being angry at the police, I would rather use my experience to create change, so other victims don’t have to go through what I’ve gone through.
“I want to ensure no other victim goes through this experience. It just can’t happen.”
Scott, who has spent about 10 months in custody, had two other charges withdrawn by prosecutors and was remanded in custody by magistrate Timothy Bourke to face the County Court for a plea hearing on December 10.
If you or anyone you know needs support, you can phone the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732), Lifeline on 131 114, or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.
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