Brittany Higgins: High-profile Australian rape case dropped resulting from fears over accuser’s psychological well being


Sydney, Australia
CNN
 — 

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 “significant and unacceptable risk” to the lady’s life.

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) director of public prosecutions, Shane Drumgold, advised reporters Friday that the chance to Brittany Higgins’ psychological well being should 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 stated he had acquired “compelling evidence” from two impartial medical specialists that the “ongoing trauma associated with this prosecution presents a significant and unacceptable risk” to Higgins’ life.

“The evidence makes it clear that this is not limited to the harm of giving evidence in a witness box,” he stated.

The case went to trial in Canberra in October, however the decide ordered a retrial resulting from jury misconduct. The retrial had been set to happen in February 2023.

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

“This has left me no option but to file a notice declining to proceed with the retrial of this matter, which I have done this morning. This brings the prosecution to an end,” Drumgold stated.

Higgins is presently in hospital, in line with a press release from her buddy Emma Webster on Friday.

“The last couple of years have been difficult and unrelenting,” Webster said. “Brittany is extremely grateful for all the support she has received, particularly from our mental health care workers.”

Within the unique trial, the decide 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 grievance, citing fears that taking the matter additional may injury her profession.

However in 2021, she spoke to media and the case made headlines, not solely due to the placement of the alleged assault however resulting from 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 yr however the trial was delayed, partly resulting from fears that publicity across the case meant he wouldn’t get a good listening to.