Brittany Higgins has found herself on the receiving end of a barrage of shameful comments accusing her of ‘crying wolf to make money out of her stupid behaviour’ after going public with claims she was raped inside Parliament House.
Ms Higgins last week alleged she was raped by a male colleague – who has since been sacked as a Liberal party staffer – inside Defence Minister Linda Reynolds’ office in 2019 when she was just 24 – but felt pressured to stay silent to keep her job.
On a video Prime Minister Scott Morrison posted to Facebook over the weekend from Sydney’s northern beaches, a number of viewers seized the chance to discredit the claims made by Ms Higgins.
They used the comments section to question why it ‘has taken her almost two years to say anything’ and demanded to know how Ms Higgins allowed herself to ‘get so drunk she passed out’.
Brittany Higgins (pictured) went public last week with the allegation she was raped by a male colleague inside Defence Minister Linda Reynolds’ office in 2019
Ms Higgins has since come under attack from Facebook users after revealing the allegations
‘That woman consented the moment she got drunk and willing went to a out of bounds empty office. What was she thinking they were going to do. Have tea and biscuits??,’ one person wrote.
‘Women who think their career is the most important part of their life are dreaming. IF she was raped will (sic) then she chose her career over getting a man accountable for his actions.’
Another said: ‘I do not condone what has happened to this girl BUT why she was so drunk that she passed out in this job she waited all her life for. Does she bear any responsibility for what happened?’
One person claimed Ms Higgins ‘made a lot of poor decisions that night’ and questioned ‘why did she go there in the first place?’.
The vile online comments directed to Ms Higgins came to light on Monday, as a fourth woman levelled sexual assault allegations at the sacked Liberal Party staffer.
Two more women accused the former government worker of rape after Ms Higgins went public last week, and now a fourth alleged victim has taken her story to Canberra police on Sunday.
Labor frontbencher Michelle Rowland said revelations of a fourth victim were ‘deeply disturbing’.
‘There now appears [there was] an alleged serial rapist on the loose in the ministerial wing of Parliament House,’ she told Sky News on Monday.
Brittany Higgins’ (pictured) allegations will be formally stated to police on Wednesday
Facebook users demanded to know why ‘it has taken her almost two years to say anything’
‘How on earth have we gotten to this position where we now have the Prime Minister saying he didn’t know and no-one thought it was prudent to tell him?’
The fourth woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, told the ABC the ‘really sleazy’ alleged rapist stroked her thigh on a night out in 2017.
Ms Higgins’ claim, which will be formally stated to police on Wednesday, opened the floodgates for others to share their stories.
The latest woman to come forward was with colleagues at Canberra’s Public Bar in 2017 when the alleged rapist touched her thigh uninvited.
She said it was not the first or last time she received unwanted advances from male colleagues.
‘By that time, I was just so used to sexual harassment I just brushed it off,’ she said.
After speaking to officers from the local police station on Sunday afternoon, the woman said she received a call from the Australian Federal Police’s Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Team.
They asked her to make a formal statement with them later this week, she said.
The third woman said she was assaulted while working as a coalition volunteer during the 2016 election campaign.
She was barely out of school at the time of the attack, which allegedly occurred after a night out drinking with the then-political staffer.
During the night out, she claims he bought her several rounds of ‘double strength’ vodkas and three tequila shots.
Scott Morrison also believes the culture within Parliament House has to change as he and his government remain under scrutiny over the handling of the matter. Pictured with Ms Higgins
Ms Higgins (pictured) said she felt pressured to stay silent in order to keep her dream job
The boozy night prompted the young volunteer, who had never been drunk before, to vomit in the nightclub bathroom.
When everybody else had left, the woman said she told him she was going to catch an Uber home, and he suggested they go back to his hotel room ‘around the corner’ instead, and he would ‘look after her’, she told The Australian.
After they arrived, she passed out while laying on his bed and allegedly woke up with her clothes undone and the staffer allegedly lying on top of her.
The woman, who was a virgin, said she was uncertain as to whether he was conscious or sleeping, but she bolted from the room into the hotel lobby toilet, where she discovered she was ‘bleeding’.
Feeling embarrassed and ashamed, the woman made her way home and did not tell police, her family or friends.
‘I believe his actions on the night of 29 June and the morning of 30 June constitute sexual assault, because he performed or tried to perform sexual acts on me whilst I was severely intoxicated and unable to provide valid and informed consent,’ she told The Australian.
‘I later realised I was so drunk, I was not able to give any consent.’
‘Hearing Brittany Higgins’ story, it was so eerily similar, it made me think this person has a pattern of behaviour.’
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds is seen during Question Time in the Senate chamber at Parliament House in Canberra last week, after Ms Higgins’ allegations were made public
The second alleged victim claimed she met the ministerial advisor in 2016 when he was working for Senator Reynolds during the election campaign.
‘We went back to my place and we were kissing… we were going to have sex and I said he had to wear a condom,’ she said.
‘He refused and we argued and I told him five or six times that we couldn’t have sex unless he wore a condom. I was drunk and he just got on top of me, I said no, and then he was inside of me and I kept saying no.’
A family friend of the woman confirmed to The Australian she had made the same allegations to her after the alleged rape.
Ms Higgins’ bombshell allegations have rocked Canberra as the Morrison Government plunges into damage control and calls mount for systematic reform of working conditions for parliamentary staffers.
As Ms Reynolds and the Prime Minister’s Office spent the past few days grappling with the political crisis, a second woman came forward to claim the same man assaulted her in 2020 after they went out for a meal and drinks.
An independent review into the workplace culture in Parliament and the Coalition has been launched, as Ms Higgins prepares to make a statement to the Australian Federal Police later this week.
Mr Morrison’s office has come under scrutiny after claiming it was not aware of the rape allegations until last week, sparking questions about why Senator Reynold’s office had failed to pass on the information.
Until recently Ms Higgins worked for Employment Minister Michaela Cash (together in Parliament’s Great Hall)
Senator Reynolds has known about the alleged rape for more than two years but did not inform the prime minister to respect Ms Higgins’ privacy and welfare.
Ms Higgins accused Mr Morrison of using ‘victim-blaming language’ during his response to the revelations, with the Prime Minister later apologising to the former Coalition staffer.
On Saturday, after another woman spoke out, Mr Morrison said he was ‘sickened’ and that the incident is ‘very distressing’.
‘These events truly do sicken me,’ he said.
‘I think we have a problem in the parliament and the workplace culture that exists there that we must continue to improve.’
The second woman was allegedly assaulted by the same man in late 2020.
The woman argued that if the government had adequately dealt with the incident involving Ms Higgins in 2019, her assault would never have occurred.