Sick sex groper preyed on exercising women
A TWEED Heads man followed a female runner to her car, pinned her against the passenger door and forcefully grabbed her breasts with both hands.
The attack was the sixth and most serious on exercising women after an escalation in assaults along southern Gold Coast beachside pathways in the two months to December 2019.
Joshua Peter Gearon, 23, pleaded guilty in Southport District Court to six counts of sexual assault. The offence carries a maximum penalty of 10 years prison.
The court heard Gearon sexually assaulted six different women, aged 26-46, in November and December last year.
"All of these women were out exercising, enjoying the day," Judge Catherine Muir said.
"You didn't know any of these women. You need to understand this is serious and brazen offending."
Judge Muir said all women would have felt violated and extremely distressed, and the actions would have an ongoing impact.
She said the nature of the offending exposed him to actual custody, but instead sentenced him to a suspended 18-month jail term, and two years probation.
The court heard that after the first two assaults Gearon smirked and grinned at his victims. He could not show his face when leaving court on Tuesday, instead covering it with a grey suit jacket.
The court heard his offending escalated from a slap on the buttocks, to squeezing, to finally following and confronting a victim.
One victim suffered bruising from an assault.
On the final occasion, on December 17, he followed a woman to her car, and pinned her to the passenger door and grabbed her breasts.
The victim had to forcefully push him off her.
Gearon was tracked down using CCTV and had to be extradited from NSW.
Crown Prosecutor Jessica Guy described the offending as "repeated and protracted" against vulnerable women, many of whom had earphones in.
"Mr Gearon's conduct showed a complete disregard for those women and their bodies," she said.
Three women provided victim impact statements.
"Each woman has changed their approach to exercise now, having to take others with them. And all have … experienced feeling unsafe and anxious," Ms Guy said.
Defence barrister Russel Pearce said it was clear undiagnosed mental health and personality issues had caused the behaviour.
He submitted it made Gearon "less morally culpable", but added he had now taken "significant steps" in rehabilitation, and said it was now a "sliding door moment" for him.
*For 24-hour sexual violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.
Originally published as Southern Coast groper preyed on exercising women