Documents show other Lehrmann allegations

December 02, 2022 04:01 PM AEDT | By AAPNEWS
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A man accused of raping Brittany Higgins in Parliament House was the subject of multiple sexual assault and harassment allegations, with other women reporting their own complaints after the political staffer's claim.

The reports which were previously kept under wraps by a court were on Friday made public along with Bruce Lehrmann's attempts to prevent his criminal trial going ahead. 

Mr Lehrmann pleaded not guilty to sexual intercourse without consent with Ms Higgins and was facing a retrial in the ACT Supreme Court after juror misconduct derailed the first.

ACT Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold announced he would not go ahead with another trial due to serious concerns about the impact it would have on Ms Higgins' mental health. 

Following the prosecutor's announcement, Chief Justice Lucy McCallum lifted several court orders stopping information about the case from being published.

This included media reports about other women coming forward with similar allegations against Mr Lehrmann published after hearing Ms Higgins' complaints in 2021.

Ms Higgins alleged he raped her in March 2019 in the office of former Liberal defence industry minister Linda Reynolds, when they both worked there as staffers.

"Within that same initial period, allegations were published to the effect that the man who had sexually assaulted the complainant was also accused of having sexually assaulted or harassed a number of other women," the court documents said. 

In April 2022, Mr Lehrmann's defence lawyers tried to permanently stop the trial from going ahead, saying the stories would prejudice a jury.

But Justice McCallum was not satisfied the reports would impact the ability of a jury to be impartial. 

She said they were published before Mr Lehrmann was named in media reports or charged by police and there were not many reports about the additional allegations. 

She also noted the relevant articles had been taken down by the companies. 

The chief justice dismissed the application from the defence because she was satisfied she could mitigate the effects of the reports by "appropriate directions" to the jury.  

In October, the jury in the first trial was dismissed after it was discovered a juror had done their own research on the case and brought an academic paper about sexual assault into the deliberation room.

The chief justice had given multiple instructions to jurors throughout the first trial to ignore anything they heard or read outside court related to the case. 

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