Rape case that shook Australian politics deserted over psychological well being fears | CNN

Rape case that shook Australian politics abandoned over mental health fears | CNN

2022-12-02 08:49:24

Sydney, Australia

Prosecutors in Australia have ended high-profile authorized motion towards a former authorities staffer accused of raping a colleague inside Parliament Home, saying a retrial would pose a “important and unacceptable danger” to the girl’s life.

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) director of public prosecutions, Shane Drumgold, instructed reporters Friday that the danger to Brittany Higgins’ psychological well being have to be put forward of the necessity for a decision within the case.

Higgins, a former federal authorities staffer, alleges she was raped by former colleague Bruce Lehrmann within the workplace of Australia’s then protection minister in 2019.

Lehrmann pleaded not responsible to sexual activity with out consent and maintains he has by no means engaged in intercourse with Higgins, consensual or in any other case.

The cost has now been dropped.

Drumgold mentioned he had acquired “compelling proof” from two unbiased medical consultants that the “ongoing trauma related to this prosecution presents a big and unacceptable danger” to Higgins’ life.

“The proof makes it clear that this isn’t restricted to the hurt of giving proof in a witness field,” he mentioned.

The case went to trial in Canberra in October, however the choose ordered a retrial as a consequence of jury misconduct. The retrial had been set to happen in February 2023.

Nevertheless, Drumgold instructed reporters Friday {that a} retrial was now not within the public curiosity.

“This has left me no possibility however to file a discover declining to proceed with the retrial of this matter, which I’ve achieved this morning. This brings the prosecution to an finish,” Drumgold mentioned.

Higgins is at present in hospital, in accordance with an announcement from her good friend Emma Webster on Friday.

“The final couple of years have been tough and unrelenting,” Webster acknowledged. “Brittany is extraordinarily grateful for all of the assist she has acquired, significantly from our psychological well being care staff.”

Within the unique trial, the choose dismissed the 12-member jury deliberating the rape verdict after it was revealed a juror had researched the allegations and brought that data into the jury room.

Higgins alleged Lehrmann had raped her in 2019 after the 2 shared a taxi to Parliament Home following an evening out with colleagues within the capital.

Higgins approached police quickly after the alleged incident however didn’t make a proper criticism, citing fears that taking the matter additional may harm her profession.

However in 2021, she spoke to media and the case made headlines, not solely due to the situation of the alleged assault however as a consequence of Higgins’ claims that she had been discouraged from coming ahead to keep away from political fallout earlier than the 2019 election.

Lehrmann was arrested and charged final 12 months however the trial was delayed, partly as a consequence of fears that publicity across the case meant he wouldn’t get a good listening to.

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