Checkback: Australian harassers

Author: Ed Cohen

Were the off-duty police officers in Australia who harassed Notre Dame students studying abroad last year ever punished?

According to a newspaper report, an internal investigation by police led to the firing of one policeman and demotion of a second. Five others were ordered to pay fines ranging from $200 to $1,000.

On May 25, 2004, a group of drunken off-duty police officers in Fremantle, Western Australia, made a group of Notre Dame study-broad students kneel on the ground outside their dorm and then taunted them about their nationality and the United States-led invasion of Iraq. A police official later issued a formal apology to the U.S. consulate and the University of Notre Dame Australia, where the students were taking classes.

According to published reports the incident began when the students were celebrating a 21st birthday at a nightclub in Fremantle. A fight broke out between at least one student and the off-duty police. After the students left the club the police apparently tracked them back to their dorm. One student was initially charged with assault in connection with the club fight, but the charge was later dropped.