Victim’s eerie likeness to Jill Meagher
A woman believed to be one of Adrian Bayley's earliest victims is speaking out for the very first time to highlight a proposed gag-law which would ban Jill Meagher's name and the circumstances around her death, from ever being shared in public again.
In 2001, Juliette, then aged 32, reported to police that she had been abducted by a "clean cut" man she met on the street, in Melbourne's CBD, shortly after she had left a trendy inner city bar.
The man, who she later identified to police as Adrian Bayley, began walking with her and talking to her, before coercing her into his vehicle.
Juliette was then driven at breakneck speed to a secluded bush area in Kew, where the assailant pinned her down on the ground, choking her and trying to force himself on her. With remarkable presence of mind, she then said something so unexpected and shocking, that it rattled the man, allowing Juliette a window of opportunity to escape.
Having narrowly avoided being raped, Juliette contacted police. Since then she has maintained her privacy and avoided the media, fearing that she would be victim-blamed or shamed for choices she made that night.
But as the Government prepares to debate a Bill today, which would make it an automatic crime to name all deceased rape victims (and force their grieving relatives to obtain expensive court orders, if they wish to name themselves or their loved one in public ever again) Juliette says she can no longer remain silent.
The 51-year-old, who has requested her surname be withheld for safety reasons, says she is speaking out after hearing Jill Meagher's mother slam the proposed laws saying she is "f***ing fuming" that families were never even consulted, and intends to "fight it".
RELATED: Schoolgirl's camping rape horror
"Since 2001, I've kept this story to myself, except for some of my close friends and family," says Juliette. "But I've thought about Jill Meagher's family and how these [proposed] laws would affect them. I've thought about all the secrets that I've carried for a long time and why.
"And I've decided to use my story to bring attention to these laws, because I think most people in the public have no idea they are even being debated."
WHAT'S A NICE GIRL LIKE YOU DOING IN A PLACE LIKE THIS?
The night in May 2001, started out like any ordinary night: Juliette and a male friend went out for a drink at a trendy bar.
"We took my car, and he drove. When we got to the bar, he was drinking and he ended up drinking too much and creating a bit of a scene. He was asked to leave and he left with my car keys. I thought he would come back, but he didn't. And so I was stranded in Melbourne," says Juliette.
The male friend had taken Juliette's car keys and money which he'd been holding for her in his back pocket. She didn't own a mobile phone back then, and so left the bar and began walking towards the intersection of Flinders Street station where some "street kids" began talking to her.
"I was 'mothering' them a bit [and] that's when I met Adrian Bayley," says Juliette.
"I heard someone say, 'What's a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?' and I looked up and there was this guy there. He was a big, muscly guy, who looked really well groomed with short back-and-sides hair style.
"He was leaning against the wall next to me and just started talking.
"I remember the street kids all suddenly got up and went. It was like they got scared of something and I remember thinking, 'Did he scare them?' Maybe they thought he was a policeman because he looked so clean cut and clean shaven. He had a button up shirt with the sleeves rolled up and jeans on the bottom."
The man began walking with Juliette talking to her. All of a sudden he pushed Juliette up against a wall.
"I started realising I'm in a really dangerous situation and I wasn't safe, but I was trying to placate him, not antagonise him. And I felt like if I became hostile, it would be on, or if I showed fear I would become the prey.
The man then ushered Juliette towards a white vehicle.
"Right at that moment, I looked around and there was no one, no one anywhere. Some of the other safety decisions I'd been making [up until that point] were based on the fact that there were other people around, at least in the distance within hearing [range]," says Juliette.
"But in that moment there was no one and in a very, very quick split decision, I decided to get in the car because I felt in my bones that [it would buy me time] and if I decided to resist right there, there were alleyways everywhere … where he would attack me or drag me … or knock me out."
Once inside the car, the man's demeanour changed dramatically.
"He just took off at lightning speed - just so fast, so dangerously fast. Inside I was completely freaking out, but I stayed really, really calm. I wasn't reacting or screaming. I didn't want to escalate the situation," she says.
Juliette tried to "act normal" to de-escalate things and buy more time.
"I said to him, 'It's a little bit rude to drive this fast with a lady in the car. You might know you're a good driver, but I don't'.
"I also said to him, 'There are better ways to impress me' but he didn't answer me back. He wasn't speaking to me at all in the car."
Juliette then tried fiddling with radio stations, looking for music, to appear as normal as possible, as though she wasn't scared and hadn't lost control of the situation.
"And then he turned left down this track and it was really, really dark. Just trees around me in every direction," she says.
The car had pulled into Studley Park in Kew. It came to an abrupt halt with Juliette's door jammed against a scrubby bush. She forced the door open and pushed her way out, with the man following in pursuit.
He pinned her down, but with a remarkable presence of mind, Juliette - who has worked in a profession where she encounters many difficult personalities, including psychopathic ones - said something which off-centred the man.
"He was trying to rape me, he was overpowering me and was holding me down, trying to get my bottom half off," says Juliette.
"I said to him, 'If you met the devil and you had a chance to kill the devil, and the devil trusted you and turned his back to you, would you do it?'"
The man stopped attacking.
"He was listening intently and we had a conversation about that," says Juliette. "I said 'I wouldn't' [kill the devil]. I said: 'I think the devil has a place in the world.'
"I didn't necessarily mean it, but I was trying to get into some really deep head space in his head. I wanted him to think that I saw him differently to the way other people saw him. I wanted to get him to think about evil and why he's doing what he's doing without saying it directly to him that he's a rapist.
"I just kept buying every single minute of time that I could. He began smoking. He [still knew he was in control] but was also amusing himself, the way a cat would play with a mouse. But I just kept buying myself more minutes."
Then something clicked and Juliette's spell was broken.
"He just came at me. It was like nothing I said or did was stopping him. And I remember thinking, right, this is it. This is it. And the last time he came at me, he was a lot more aggressive. He was holding me down by the throat. He was restricting my breathing and he was trying to get my pants off," says Juliette.
"I don't know where it came from. But it suddenly occurred to me for the first time, [what I should say].
"At the time, I was really unwell and I'd lost a lot of weight. It occurred to me to tell him that I was HIV positive, which I'm not. He was on top of me, holding me down. I was completely pinned. He totally overpowered me. I couldn't stop him. And so I said, 'Do I look sick to you?'
"He didn't hear me at first and so I said it [again]: 'Do I look sick to you?'
"I remember I said it twice. And then I said 'I'm HIV positive'.
"He was on top of me on all fours and he loosened his grip on me. And I just remember his mouth saying the word 'AIDS'. But no sound came out and he was really shocked. And he got back off me and he was reeling in shock.
"I stayed on the ground and he stood up. I wriggled out away from him a bit. I could see he was breathing heavily, still getting his breath back.
"He just couldn't afford not to believe me, but he was looking at me and almost laughing, like he wasn't sure whether to believe me or not. But he couldn't afford to take that chance that I wasn't lying. And that gave me an opportunity to take a bit of control back."
He began pacing. Then, sitting on the boot of his vehicle, he motioned for Juliette to fellate him.
"He looked down to his groin. He had a really big erection, and then when I looked back up at his face, it looked like a demonic joker. His teeth were together, he had a massive, big, wide grin like a snarl, his nostrils were flaring and his eyes were bulging and he was trembling," says Juliette.
"It was like the Joker, but with teeth. It kind of rose in him for about five seconds to its peak. It was like, 'Oh this is the guy you let out to play once in a while, and you enjoy it'."
By now, though Juliette was on her feet.
"I kind of played dumb and then I turned around and I started back up that track. I remember it so clearly, a voice in my head said, 'Don't look back, don't show fear, just don't look back whatever you do', and I didn't. I just didn't look back," she says.
"I could hear him coming up behind me and I was scared because I didn't know if he was going to knock me out but I did not look back."
Juliette made it to the road as the man caught up, but in a 'sliding doors moment', she saw a taxi approaching. She ran into the middle of the road.
"I thought, there's no way this taxi is getting past me. I knew it wouldn't run me over, so I stood in the middle and I put my two arms out the front and it stopped. I just lost it. I started crying. [I climbed in] and I was just saying, 'go, go, go, drive, drive, drive. Quick, quick, quick, quick.'"
IF YOU LOOK FOR HIM YOU'LL FIND HIM
The taxi drove Juliette back to where her friend, who had taken the car, was staying. Soon after, she admitted herself to hospital where her bruises were examined and she contacted police.
"I spoke to a detective. I gave him a description and told him what the car looked like. I said we were walking around [the CBD]. It will be on CCTV for sure. I said if you look, you'll find him," she recalls.
But according to Juliette the detective was not sympathetic and asked 'victim blaming' questions, such as, "and what were you doing there at that time anyway?"
In tears Juliette couldn't pursue the matter.
What she didn't know was that just weeks earlier a man matching the same description had been bailed after allegedly sexually assaulting a series of sex workers.
His name was Adrian Bayley.
No one at the time connected the cases. But when Jill Meagher went missing 11 years later in 2012, and Juliette saw Jill's picture on TV, she had a sinking feeling.
"When I saw how much Jill Meagher looked like me, that gave me some really uneasy feelings. It's the likeness. It's still a horrible feeling now," says Juliette.
Shortly after that, Juliette saw a picture of Adrian Bayley for the first time. "I thought 'What is the probability there are two guys like that, that look exactly the same?'"
Juliette contacted police for a second time and eventually filed a second police report which was completed in 2019.
She says she has struggled for years with the memory and trauma of that night but spent a long time shutting it out: "You go to work every day. You function. You've got a partner and you've got children and grandkids and you don't let it in," she says.
"I felt very guilty about holding onto this story. I did try to report it originally, but that wasn't successful and when society or the state doesn't treat you with loving kindness in that situation, it further traumatises you and it further devalues you.
"You feel stained, you feel tainted. You fear the judgement of people. You fear them asking 'why were you there? What were you wearing? Why are you even doing this?' - that type of mentality.
"So my silence became motivated by fear, I guess, from a sense of self-preservation. And since then I've only told very few friends and family. But I've always felt a sense of guilt and a sense of responsibility, particularly since 2012.
"I'm getting older, now. I don't have young children to look after anymore. I guess that was part of [coming forward]. Maybe other people can benefit from it. And maybe I'm strong enough now."
Juliette says she hopes her story will get Victorian politicians to reconsider making a law which would criminalise the naming of Jill Meagher - and other murdered rape victims.
Currently it is not against the law to name deceased sexual assault victims in Victoria, a fact which was confirmed on Friday by Judge Michael McInerney, who ruled that the prohibition on naming of living sexual assault victims, does not extend to deceased victims.
But if the Government's new bill is passed today, then that will change and grieving family members would be forced back to court if they wish to name their deceased loved ones in public.
A letter-writing campaign was launched yesterday to plead with parliamentarians to stall changes, until consultation with grieving families has occurred.
Juliette says she couldn't stand by any longer without saying something.
"I asked myself, how will I feel years down the track when I might have been in this position to say something and I was one of those good people that did nothing? And I don't want to be one of those good people that did nothing," says Juliette.
"[People] marched in the streets for Jill when Jill died. Well, women should be marching in the streets now.
"I want Jill's family to know that I'm doing this, putting myself through this, for them. Because the thought that they [and] other people can't speak her name is just so horrific and I want them to know that.
"They're the reason, they're the big reason that I chose to do this and [Jill] deserves justice. For the rest of all of our lives. And these gag laws that need to be stopped."
Nina Funnell is the creator of the #LetUsSpeak campaign in partnership with EROC Australia, Rape & Sexual Assault Research & Advocacy and Marque Lawyers. Click here to donate to the campaign.
This article was supported by the Walkley Public Fund. Know more? Contact Nina on firstname.lastname@example.org
Originally published as Victim's eerie likeness to Jill Meagher