Judge Finds Bruce Lehrmann Raped Brittany Higgins Inside Parliament

Justice Michael Lee of Australia’s Federal Court found Bruce Lehrmann, a former government adviser, guilty of raping his colleague Brittany Higgins in a Parliament House office in 2019.

Judge Finds Bruce Lehrmann Raped Brittany Higgins Inside Parliament

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The judge based his decision on the balance of probabilities standard used in civil trials rather than the higher standard of beyond all reasonable doubt used in criminal trials.

Bruce Lehrmann filed a defamation suit against Australian media company Network Ten after it aired an interview with Higgins in 2021, where she accused him of rape.

Justice Lee dismissed Bruce Lehrmann’s defamation case ruling that Network Ten‘s report was true. The defamation case had issues with Australia’s defamation laws, which media organizations argue are highly restrictive.

Justice Lee criticized Bruce Lehrmann’s behavior, stating that he was “hellbent” on having sex with Higgins and was indifferent to her consent.

Lehrmann’s credibility was questioned, with the judge describing him as an unreliable witness who told deliberate lies.

The case has made discussions about sexual violence, gender discrimination, and misconduct in Parliament.

The role of media organizations, such as Network Ten and journalist Lisa Wilkinson, came under trouble during the trial.

While the court vindicated Network Ten’s reporting as true, there were criticisms of their conduct particularly regarding the pursuit of sensationalism.

The verdict has been hailed as a victory for truth and justice by some, while others have concerns about the impact on both the accused and the accuser.

Discussions about press freedom, ethical journalism, and the handling of sensitive cases have intensified the ruling.

The case may have implications for legal proceedings, including potential criminal charges against Bruce Lehrmann in the Australian Capital Territory. The issue of legal costs for both parties is yet to be decided by the court.

The verdict shows the changing attitudes towards consent and sexual violence in Australian society. It also addresses the need for legal processes to recognize the experiences of victim-survivors and ensure justice is served.

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The case dates back to 2019 when Higgins, then a staffer, alleged that she was sexually assaulted by Bruce Lehrmann in a ministerial office in the capital, Canberra.

Despite Bruce Lehrmann’s denial of any wrongdoing, Justice Lee’s judgment was unequivocal, Lehrmann raped Higgins.

The judge addressed that while the standard of proof in civil trials is lower than that of criminal trials, the evidence presented established Bruce Lehrmann’s culpability beyond a reasonable doubt.

Bruce Lehrmann’s defamation suit against Australian media company Network Ten, which aired an interview with Higgins in 2021 where she recounted her ordeal without naming Lehrmann directly, was also dismissed by Justice Lee.

The judge ruled that Network Ten’s report was truthful, the critical role of media in bringing important social and political issues to light.

Justice Michael Lee’s ruling delivered on Monday dismissed Lehrmann’s defamation suit against Australian media company Network Ten, the allegations made by Brittany Higgins in a 2021 interview.

Lee found Bruce Lehrmann guilty of rape on the “balance of probabilities” standard used in civil trials, addressing that this was a finding based on careful consideration of the evidence presented.

Bruce Lehrmann’s denial of any wrongdoing and his previous unsuccessful criminal trial due to juror misconduct, Justice Lee’s verdict stands as a legal and moral condemnation of Lehrmann’s actions.

Bruce Lehrmann’s defamation suit against Network Ten and journalist Lisa Wilkinson stemmed from a 2021 interview where Higgins accused Lehrmann of rape without naming him directly. Network Ten defended the story as true, leading to the court’s ruling in their favor.

Reactions to the verdict have been mixed, with some applauding the court’s decision as a step towards justice for victims of sexual violence, while others express concerns about the implications for freedom of speech and media freedom in Australia.

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