Former intern details experience with ex-Liberal staffer
A former intern has come forward to reveal she was invited to a Nationals senator’s office at Parliament House seven years ago by the man who allegedly raped Brittany Higgins.
The woman, who asked to speak on the condition of anonymity, said that while the interactions she had with the man were consensual, she frequently felt “pressured” to have sex.
She also has Facebook messages from the man referring to “the couch” in the senator’s office where he worked at the time. Ms Higgins has alleged she was raped on a couch in Senator Linda Reynolds’s office in March 2019. No charges have been laid.
“The thing that really makes me feel sick about this is because … I distinctly remember a time when he also took me to his Senator’s office after hours,’’ the former intern told news.com.au.
“Nothing ‘rapey’ happened. But that makes me feel really ill. I feel like he wanted to [take me there] because he wanted to show off his power. He was obviously much more important than I was.
“When we were on the couch he started kissing me. I stopped and I went home afterwards.”
She was a university student at the time and said the man also referred to “the couch” in Facebook messenger exchanges.
In one message obtained by news.com.au, the man states the lounge in the office is comfortable.
“The lounge in his office is really comfy, good for doing readings. haha,’’ he wrote.
The woman replies, “mmm, depends, do you tend to talk a lot whilst studying?”
He then replies that he is usually “a good boy haha. I have the IR essay.”
She said she never had what she described as “proper sex” with the man, but the relationship did involve consensual sexual acts.
The incidents occurred in 2014, five years before the Liberal staffer allegedly sexually assaulted Ms Higgins in Defence Minister Linda Reynolds’s office.
The woman said she was at Parliament on the day in question because she was interning at a Labor MP’s office.
“So, I was already there that day. But he was like, no, no, come to my office,’’ she said.
Two women have already come forward to allege they were sexually assaulted or raped by the man including one woman who told The Australian she was barely out of school when the man got her drunk and told her to come back to his house so he could look after her.
When she woke up her blouse was unbuttoned and her jeans were pulled down and she was bleeding. Another woman said he refused to wear a condom when she insisted he must and had sex with her anyway despite her protestations.
The former intern who spoke to news.com.au said she was not alleging rape or sexual assault.
“I feel like sexual assault means rape. And I definitely wasn’t raped,’’ she said.
But she did feel pressured as did another friend who also had interactions with the man.
“She also said she had felt pressured by him. She didn’t tell me exactly what happened but last night she was crying on the phone,’’ she said.
“He was very, very ambitious. When I met him he was already interning for a Nationals MP.
“It was basically all he would ever talk about. He was one of those people who would go and watch question time every single day it was on.
“I would describe him as someone who was sure he would one day become a Prime Minister of Australia. He was like (the MP) is going to make sure that I take his seat one day.”
The former intern said she first met him at drinks where she got “very drunk” and then went back to his house.
“We kissed that night,’’ she said. “I was very drunk and he was totally sober. I never felt weird about that but there were other instances where he definitely pressured me. We never had proper sex.
“There was one time I kept saying, ‘No, I am really tired, I don’t want to do anything’ and he kept being like, ‘Oh, come on. Come on.’
“I went to take a shower and he came into the shower. He wouldn’t take no for an answer. At one point he just said, ‘You know, you are staying at my apartment.’
“I knew it wasn’t right. You know, you have a feeling that it’s not right? But I didn’t do anything about it. I never said anything.”
The woman said she was confused over where the line was when you were being pressured for sex.
“In some ways it’s consensual. But is it really consensual? If you’re saying ‘NO’ and eventually you give in and say ‘Yes’?” she said.
“I can’t have my parents knowing about that.”
The woman has told news.com.au she is prepared to make a statement to police if it assists with their inquiries.
Ms Higgins will give a formal statement to AFP detectives in Queensland on Wednesday