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Thursday, February 2, 2023

Lehrmann Rape Trial in the Australian Parliament Dismissed Due to Jury Misconduct

More than 100,000 people protested in towns and cities around Australia last year to express their outrage

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AUSTRALIA: After a night out in March 2019, Brittany Higgins was allegedly sexually assaulted on the sofa of a government minister by Bruce Lehrmann, 27.

He claims they had no sexual activity at all.

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But after a 12-day trial and five days of discussion, it was discovered that one juror had looked at scholarly research on sexual assault, leading to the jury’s discharge.

Only the evidence that has been given in court may be used by juries to decide a case.

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Chief Justice Lucy McCallum told a Canberra court, “It may be that no harm has been done, but that is not a risk I can take.”

A court representative found the academic paper after it fell off a table during “routine tidying” of the jury room.

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Higgins waived her right to privacy before disclosing her narrative to authorities in early 2021 and went public with her allegations in prominent media and television interviews.

Her accusations served as the impetus for what has been dubbed Australia’sMe Too moment,” which sparked protests and discussions about women’s safety across the country and exposed a toxic work environment in Australian politics.

It was revealed throughout the trial that Higgins and Lehrmann had an office with Linda Reynolds, who was the defense industry minister at the time. They shared beverages with coworkers and others on March 22, 2019.

The jury was informed that Higgins claimed to be the most drunk she had ever been after spending hours at two Canberra bars before the duo shared a cab to Parliament House.

She was sobbing inside the courtroom as the jurors saw surveillance footage of her and Lehrmann entering the structure.

Higgins testified during a police interrogation that was shown to the jury that she had slept off in Minister Reynolds’ office before waking up to find Lehrmann having sex with her.

She admitted to crying to the cops. She said, “I told him no; I told him to stop.”

Higgins could not have given consent to intercourse since she was “unconscious,” according to the prosecution.

On that date, it will have been two years since Higgins’ alleged rape on national television provoked a larger reckoning.

There was widespread rage at what was thought to be the government’s weak response. Her assertion sparked complaints of Australian politics as a harsh workplace, particularly for women, once more.

More than 100,000 people protested in towns and cities around Australia last year to express their outrage at sexism, misogyny, and abuse in society.

Additionally, it sparked a scathing investigation that revealed that a third of federal parliament employees had experienced sexual harassment.

Due to the notoriety, there had been worries that Lehrmann might not receive a fair trial; nevertheless, a previous request to have the case dismissed was denied.

Also Read: US Religious Freedom Panel Condemns Release of Bilkis Bano Rape Convicts

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