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Jury discharged in trial over alleged rape at Australia’s Parliament & More Trending News

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MELBOURNE, Australia — The trial of a political staffer accused of raping a colleague inside a lawmaker’s workplace in Australia’s Parliament constructing has ended with the jury discharged and a retrial scheduled for February.

Bruce Lehrmann, who was born in Texas, is alleged to have assaulted Brittany Higgins in the early hours of March 23, 2019, on a sofa in a senator’s workplace after an evening of consuming in Australia’s capital, Canberra.

A 12-day trial ended and not using a verdict in the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory on Thursday. Chief Justice Lucy McCallum realized a juror had accessed a tutorial paper about false complaints that was not a part of admitted proof. The jury had deliberated for 5 days with out unanimous settlement.

The trial ensnared two sitting senators for the conservative Liberal Party, Higgins’ former bosses, Sens. Linda Reynolds and Michaelia Cash, who had been known as to testify. Reynolds had been criticized regionally for her response to the rape allegation, which Higgins claims happened in Reynolds’s workplace.

Higgins made the allegation by means of two media shops in February 2021. She made a police criticism across the identical time and resigned from her job with the Liberal Party. She believed the occasion, for whom she labored as a media adviser, was extra involved concerning the doable political affect of her declare than on her welfare, she stated.

“It was very clear I couldn’t proceed [with a police complaint] and maintain my career,” she instructed the courtroom this month.

The story was amongst a number of separate sexual misconduct claims referring to federal politics that triggered an outcry in Australia in 2019.

Higgins addressed protesters at Canberra’s iteration of nationwide ‘March4Justice’ rallies for girls’s security, attended by 110,000 in line with organizers, the month after she went public.

Shortly after Higgins’s allegation was publicized, tales by the Australian Broadcasting Corp. contained the allegation that then-Attorney General Christian Porter, whereas at college in 1988, had raped a girl who had subsequently dedicated suicide. Porter left politics final 12 months and adamantly denies the declare.

Amid a media storm, then-Prime Minister Scott Morrison instructed Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins to conduct a assessment of the tradition for employees at the federal Parliament. The assessment discovered one-third of respondents had been sexually harassed and 37 p.c had been bullied.

The conservative coalition’s perceived downside with girls was incessantly attributed as a major issue in its election loss in May. It acquired solely 30 p.c of votes from girls, in contrast with 37 p.c from males, in line with an exit ballot taken by the Australia Institute suppose tank. The identical ballot discovered two-thirds of voters thought the coalition’s remedy of ladies in politics was one in all its largest weaknesses.

Higgins instructed police that the evening she was raped she shared a taxi with Lehrmann, each of them then staffers for the Liberal Party in their mid-20s, after a Friday evening out in Canberra with a bigger group, with the intention to go straight house, the jury heard this month.

She was “as drunk as I’d ever been in my life,” she instructed the courtroom.

Instead, Higgins stated, Lehrmann instructed the taxi to go to the Parliament constructing, the place they each labored. She went with him inside and handed out on a sofa in the workplace of her boss, Reynolds, and woke to Lehrmann raping her, she alleged to the courtroom.

A safety guard testified she had walked into the workplace later to search out Higgins bare and rolling into the fetal place. Lehrmann had left in a rush about 20 minutes after the pair had been let into the Parliament constructing, the safety guard stated.

Lehrmann’s employment was terminated the next month due to two safety breaches, together with accessing the constructing late at evening.

In Lehrman’s model of occasions instructed to police, he and Higgins went to Parliament collectively at about 1:45 a.m. as a result of he needed to choose up his home keys and she or he additionally had a activity, the courtroom heard. They went into separate rooms and he left alone with out seeing her once more, he stated.

“Obviously I reject that allegation because it simply didn’t happen,” he instructed police of the sexual assault declare.

Higgins instructed the courtroom that Reynolds, the senator, knew concerning the sexual assault allegation. She felt frozen out by her boss due to the “problems I had caused” by means of her disclosure, she stated — which Reynolds denied.

Reynolds knew Higgins was discovered in a state of undress after arriving late at evening with Lehrmann, however no additional particulars, the senator instructed the courtroom.

“At the time, I truly believed that I and my chief of staff were doing everything we could to support that young woman who I had responsibility for,” she stated on the Senate flooring final 12 months.

When the senator heard about an incident, she known as a gathering with Higgins to speak in the identical room in which she was allegedly discovered bare — Reynolds’s workplace. The location “seemed really off” and made her “quite panicked,” Higgins instructed the courtroom. Reynolds apologized.

Reynolds privately known as Higgins a “lying cow,” one thing that was leaked to the Australian newspaper final March, after which Higgins initiated a defamation declare. Reynolds stated the remark was in reference to Higgins’s assertion that she wasn’t adequately supported. She apologized and settled out of courtroom. Higgins stated she donated the settlement to a company that helps victims of sexual violence.

Jury discharged in trial over alleged rape at Australia’s Parliament

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Jury discharged in trial over alleged rape at Australia’s Parliament

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Jury discharged in trial over alleged rape at Australia’s Parliament

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