Australia Federal Court Justice Michael Lee found that former government adviser Bruce Lehrmann raped a colleague in a Parliament House office on Monday. The judge dismissed a defamation lawsuit Lehrmann brought against the Australian media company Network Ten after it aired an interview with his accuser, Brittany Higgin.Lee found that, under the civil standard of proof of “balance of probabilities,” there was enough evidence to conclude that Lehrmann raped Higgin. Lee noted that this is a lower standard of proof than what is required to be found guilty in a criminal trial, which is beyond a reasonable doubt. Lee also noted that Lehrmann “is not entitled to the vindication of his reputation.”In 2021, Higgins, a former member of the Australian Parliament, claimed a colleague at Parliament House raped her after a night out in Canberra. She recounted the events in an exclusive interview, saying that after drinking with colleagues in March 2019, she took an Uber to Parliament House with a man who allegedly raped her. The interview did not name Lehrmann, but he claimed that it contained enough information to identify him as the alleged rapist. He denied the allegations, claiming that no sexual activity had taken place, but he pleaded not guilty in court to one count of non-consensual sexual intercourse.Lehrmann could not press defamation charges while the criminal trial was ongoing, so he asked the court for permission to extend the period to file a lawsuit, which is why it took so long to go to trial.The trial started in October 2022 but was later halted due to inadmissible actions by jury members. Prosecutors withdrew the charges instead of requesting a retrial, claiming that further legal action could create an “unacceptable risk” to Higgins’ health.The revelation caused a significant uproar in Australian politics and led to an apology from then-Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who promised to conduct an inquiry into the legislature. In 2023, Australian federal Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus announced that sexual assault laws across the country will be improved in the coming years.

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