Complainant testifies about Australian Parliament House rape

Complainant testifies about Australian Parliament House rape

A government staffer testified on Wednesday about being raped by a colleague in the Australian Parliament House and described her fears of not being believed because of the disparity in their workplace statuses.

Brittany Higgins became the first witness to testify against Bruce Lehrmann, 27, who has pleaded not guilty in the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court to a charge of sexual intercourse without consent in a minister’s office in March 2019.

Higgins said she was a 24-year-old staffer in an administrative role in then-Defence Industry Minister Linda Reynolds’ office while Lehrmann had a more senior role as a ministerial adviser.

The pair had gone back to Parliament House early one Saturday morning after a night of heavy drinking with colleagues.

Higgins said she thought Lehrmann wanted to collect documents from Reynolds’ office, where she fell asleep on a couch and was awoken by Lehrmann raping her.

Higgins said she felt “trapped, not human” as Lehrmann hovered over her, grunting and making noise. She said she started crying and told him to stop but he continued.

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