Lehrmann raped Brittany Higgins, judge finds

UPDATED | Bruce Lehrmann was indifferent to whether a drunk Brittany Higgins consented or not before he raped her on a senator’s couch at Parliament House, a judge has found.

Apr 15, 2024, updated Apr 15, 2024
The judgement in Bruce Lehrmann's defamation case against Network 10 will be handed down on Monday. Photo: AAP

The judgement in Bruce Lehrmann's defamation case against Network 10 will be handed down on Monday. Photo: AAP

The findings were delivered by Justice Michael Lee on Monday as he handed down judgment in Lehrmann’s defamation case against Network Ten and journalist Lisa Wilkinson.

“Mr Lehrmann raped Ms Higgins,” he said of the infamous night.

While there was no evidence Lehrmann knew that Higgins did not consent to the sexual activity, he was recklessly indifferent to her rights and was “hell-bent” on having sex, the judge said.

Earlier on Monday, Justice Lee slammed Lehrmann as being an unreliable, dishonest witness.

“Mr Lehrmann has no compunction from departing from the truth if he thought it was expedient,” the judge said.

“I am satisfied that in important respects, he told deliberate lies.”

The 28-year-old is suing Network Ten and journalist Lisa Wilkinson for defamation over a February 2021 report on The Project in which Brittany Higgins claimed he raped her in a Parliament House office almost two years prior.

Justice Lee described both Lehrmann and Higgins as “unreliable historians” when recounting what occurred on that fateful night.

The judge said Higgins had been loose with the truth regarding allegations made to Ten in 2021 that members of the then-coalition government had sought to silence her in reporting the alleged rape.

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“‘The cover-up allegation was objectively short on facts but long on speculation,” he said.

But Justice Lee found that any incorrect statements made to the police in 2019 were not inconsistent with remarks being made by a “genuine victim of sexual assault”.

Justice Lee said that Lehrmann was identified by Ten’s report, despite denials from the network.

The ex-Liberal staffer claims his reputation was ruined and is seeking significant damages.

Ten has defended its reporting, saying claims in the interview were true and in the public interest as they involved alleged sexual abuse in Parliament House.

Justice Lee considered whether or not, on the balance of probabilities, the alleged sexual assault occurred in the office of their then-boss, Senator Linda Reynolds.

Lehrmann denies the sexual assault allegation and a criminal case was dropped in 2022, with no findings made against him.

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

National Sexual Abuse and Redress Support Service 1800 211 028

– AAP

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