Home World Bruce Lerman trial: Brittany Higgins ‘not ashamed’ to come forward with accusations

Bruce Lerman trial: Brittany Higgins ‘not ashamed’ to come forward with accusations

Warning: The article below contains references to allegations of rape.
Brittany Higgins told the court that she was not ashamed to disclose the details of her alleged rape before making another complaint to the police.
Ms Higgins is being cross-examined in the ACT Supreme Court criminal trial of Bruce Lerman, who pleaded not guilty to having sex without consent.
Barrister Stephen Whybrow argued for Ms Higgins that she told the media about her alleged rape two years after it happened because she wanted to damage the Liberal Party.
Ms Higgins said she wanted change to tackle the systemic treatment of women in the Houses of Parliament.

“I loved my party, I loved the Liberal Party,” she said on Thursday.

Former Liberal Party staffer Bruce Lerman is accused of raping colleague Brittany Higgins in the Houses of Parliament in 2019. He denies having sex with her and has pleaded not guilty. Source: AAP / MICK TIKAS

Ms Higgins told the court the cultural issues and her alleged rape were two separate issues she wanted to deal with.

She decided to take two avenues to resolve the issues by speaking to the media and the police about her allegations.
“I stand by my choice. I’m not ashamed of it,” she said.
Ms Higgins said that after she spoke to reporters Samantha Maiden and Lisa Wilkinson about her allegations, the story got out of her control.
“It became not even about me or my story, but about them (journalists),” she said.

“Once I gave the interview on the record … it was out of my control … it’s up to them.”

A woman in black glasses and an orange jacket

Lisa Wilkinson was one of two journalists Brittany Higgins initially spoke to about her rape allegations. Source: AAP / BIANCA DE MARCHI

Mr Whybrow presented a timeline of events to Ms Higgins which she had written was prepared more for the media than the police.

Ms Higgins originally wrote it for the police but it was passed on to certain journalists when she and her partner David Sharaz were overwhelmed with media enquiries.
She said those journalists then shared the dossier with others, which was a “breach of trust”.
Ms Higgins was told by police officers that media reports could jeopardize the case, Mr Whybrow said.
Ms. Higgins thought she would give one print and one television interview about her experience and then never talk about it again.
She also did not think that the police would consider her dispute or that the case would go to court.

“I thought about going back to university and disappearing,” she said.

The court is considering fears of “problems” for the Liberal Party

Ms Higgins told the court she did not initially make a police complaint in 2019, when the alleged rape took place, because she feared she would lose her job.
After dreaming of becoming a political media adviser, Ms Higgins feared she would lose that opportunity if she lodged a police complaint.
“My interpretation of it was that if I took it up with the police there would be problems.”
She wanted to continue working for the Liberals and help out during the federal election, but she also wanted to continue with the appeal.

“It became really clear that this was my job on the line … I’ve been working my whole life for this moment,” she said.

A woman in a gray and black jacket is sitting in the senatorial hall

Both Brittany Higgins and Bruce Lerman were working for Senator Linda Reynolds when the alleged rape occurred. Source: AAP / MICK TIKAS

She decided to “toe the party line” and not pursue a police complaint any further.

Ms Higgins worked with Linda Reynolds during the election but said she felt the Liberal senator disliked her because of the problems she had caused.
Jurors were previously shown footage from Parliament House overnight in March 2019 in which Ms Higgins claims she was raped in the senator’s office.
She cried on the witness stand as CCTV footage was shown.
The trial will continue on Friday.
If the allegations in this story are causing you problems, or if you or someone you know needs support – you can get 24/7 help by calling 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or by visiting . In an emergency call 000.


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