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Charged With Historic Indecent Assault?
Call Us Now on 01623 600645

Katie Forrest of Forrest Williams

Katie Forrest of Forrest Williams


Historic Indecent Assault


For an overview of historic sexual offences, click here.


Historic indecent assault charges can cover both penetrative and non-penetrative conduct, ranging from touching breasts to oral sex. The specific conduct alleged should be specified.


The offence can be committed by a man or woman against a woman, and can be committed by a man against his wife.


The assault can occur intentionally or recklessly and if the defendant announces he is going to perform an act constituting indecent assault but his attempt to do so fails, this should be charged as indecent assault.


If the defendant invites the woman to touch him, this should not be charged as indecent assault but as gross indecency or indecency with a child.


The conduct alleged must be so offensive that it is considered indecent and all circumstances should be considered, including the relationship of the defendant and the woman, and reasons for the conduct.


A girl under 16 cannot consent to an indecent assault, but a woman over 16 can consent and this means that the conduct does not constitute an assault. This is a common defence, as is genuine belief that the woman consented. Similarly, genuine belief that a girl under 16 is aged over 16, and where she consents, this is a valid defence.


If the defendant believes that he is lawfully married to the woman, he cannot be guilty of indecent assault if it turns out that this is not the case.


Maximum sentencing is as follows:


  • 10 years’ imprisonment for offences committed on or after 16 September 1985
  • Five years’ imprisonment, if the girl was under 13 and her age has been included in the indictment, for offences committed prior to 16 September 1985
  • Two years’ imprisonment otherwise for offences committed prior to 16 September 1985


An example of a case of indecent assault is that of BBC broadcaster, Stuart Hall. Hall pleaded guilty to 14 counts of indecent assault including digital penetration of a 13-year-old- girl and placing his hand on the leg of a nine-year-old girl staying in his home and moving his hand towards her genitalia. He was given a sentence of 30 months imprisonment.


Charged with or investigated for historic indecent assault?
Call our expert team now on 01623 600645.