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Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Third woman claims she was assaulted by male staffer who allegedly raped Brittany Higgins

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A third woman has levelled sexual assault allegations against the Liberal staffer who allegedly raped Brittany Higgins in Parliament House. 

Ms Higgins went public last week with the allegation she was sexually assaulted by a male colleague inside Defence Minister Linda Reynolds’ office in 2019, and felt pressured to stay silent in order to keep her dream job.   

Now, a young campaign volunteer has spoken out as the latest alleged victim of the former senior staffer, with an eerily similar story to the two other women.   

The woman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity but provided a statutory declaration, said she had barely left high school when she went out with fellow campaign volunteers just days before the 2016 election. 

During the night out, she claims he bought her several rounds of ‘double strength’ vodkas and three tequila shots.

A third woman has accused the former Liberal staff who allegedly raped Brittany Higgins (pictured) of sexually assaulting her

A third woman has accused the former Liberal staff who allegedly raped Brittany Higgins (pictured) of sexually assaulting her 

The boozy night prompted the young volunteer, who had never been drunk before, to vomit in the nightclub bathroom.  

When everybody else had left, the woman said she told him she was going to catch an Uber home, and he suggested they go back to his hotel room ‘around the corner’ instead, and he would ‘look after her’, she told The Australian.

After they arrived, she passed out while laying on his bed and allegedly woke up with her clothes undone and the staffer allegedly lying on top of her.

The woman, who was a virgin, said she was uncertain as to whether he was conscious or sleeping, but she bolted from the room into the hotel lobby toilet, where she discovered she was ‘bleeding’. 

Feeling embarrassed and ashamed, the woman made her way home and did not tell police, her family or friends. 

Scott Morrison also believes the culture within Parliament House has to change as he and his government remain under scrutiny over the handling of the matter. Pictured with Ms Higgins

Scott Morrison also believes the culture within Parliament House has to change as he and his government remain under scrutiny over the handling of the matter. Pictured with Ms Higgins 

Questions have now been raised about whether Senator Reynolds should apologise for her handling of Ms Higgins' (pictured) allegations

Questions have now been raised about whether Senator Reynolds (left in right image) should apologise for her handling of Ms Higgins’ allegations

‘I believe his actions on the night of 29 June and the morning of 30 June constitute sexual assault, because he performed or tried to perform sexual acts on me whilst I was severely intoxicated and unable to provide valid and informed consent,’ she told The Australian. 

‘I later realised I was so drunk, I was not able to give any consent.’

‘Hearing Brittany Higgins’ story, it was so eerily similar, it made me think this person has a pattern of behaviour.’ 

Ms Higgins’ bombshell allegations have rocked Canberra as the Morrison Government plunges into damage control and calls mount for systematic reform of working conditions for parliamentary staffers.

As Ms Reynolds and the Prime Minister’s Office spent the past few days grappling with the political crisis, a second woman came forward to claim the same man assaulted her in 2020 after they went out for a meal and drinks. 

An independent review into the workplace culture in Parliament and the Coalition has been launched, as Ms Higgins prepared to make a statement to the Australian Federal Police later this week. 

The Prime Minister office has come under scrutiny after claiming it was not aware of the rape allegations until last week, sparking questions about why Senator Reynold’s office had failed to pass on the information. 

Senator Reynolds has known about the alleged rape for more than two years but did not inform the prime minister to respect Ms Higgins’ privacy and welfare.  

Ms Higgins accused Mr Morrison of using ‘victim-blaming language’ during his response to the revelations, with the Prime Minister later apologising to the former Coalition staffer. 

Defence Minister Linda Reynolds told the Senate the staffer had been 'terminated' following a 'security breach'

Until recently Ms Higgins worked for Employment Minister Michaela Cash

Defence Minister Linda Reynolds (left) told the Senate this week that the staffer had been ‘terminated’ following a ‘security breach’. Until recently Ms Higgins worked for Employment Minister Michaela Cash (together in Parliament’s Great Hall on right)

On Saturday, after another woman spoke out, Mr Morrison said he was ‘sickened’ and that the incident is ‘very distressing’.

‘These events truly do sicken me,’ he said. 

‘I think we have a problem in the parliament and the workplace culture that exists there that we must continue to improve.’ 

Despite questions about Senator Reynolds’ handling of the complaint, the prime minister said she has his confidence to remain in Cabinet. 

The second woman was allegedly assaulted by the same man – a former government adviser – in late 2020.

The woman argues that if the government had adequately dealt with the incident involving Ms Higgins in 2019, she would not have become a victim.

Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott, a frequent visitor to Parliament House, said it is a place that breeds a culture of disrespect. 

‘That culture is a cancer that gives rise to these very serious events that happen in this place, that frankly wouldn’t be tolerated in a good workplace and shouldn’t be,’ she said.  

This post was first published on DailyMail.

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