Australian Parliament House Assault Trial Implodes

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What a circus. This week the Brittany Higgins/Bruce Lehrmann rape trial imploded when the jury was dismissed due to misconduct by a juror. The case seemed to be heading for a hung jury after five days of deliberation, during which not a single question was put to the judge—which suggests that the jury was battling over beliefs rather than wrestling with understanding the evidence.

But then one juror appears to have taken it upon themselves to do their own research, coming up with an academic paper described by the judge as a discussion of “the unhelpfulness of attempting to quantify the prevalence of false complaints of sexual assault and a deeper, research-based analysis of the reasons for both false complaints and scepticism in the face of true complaints.”

The paper apparently turned up in the jury room during tidying by sheriff’s officers, who accidentally knocked this juror’s document holder onto the floor, exposing the offending item.

The judge concluded the juror had breached her carefully explained instructions requiring jurors to rely only upon the evidence presented to the court.

That was enough for the whole thing to be called off. The Higgins/Lehrmann trial has been aborted, and the jury dismissed. A new date, Feb. 20, 2023, has been set for a retrial.

Announcing her decision, the judge gave strict orders for media silence prior to the new trial date but made an exception for reporting about the mistrial.

Higgins then tearfully addressed the media after the decision, reading a prepared speech, which led to Lehrmann’s lawyers referring Higgins to the court and to federal police. They are also seeking urgent legal advice about whether Higgins could be charged with a criminal offence for the speech which breached laws around fair trials.

Media Coverage of the Trial

These latest twists in the ongoing saga provide further proof of the near impossibility of fair treatment for the accused in the trial, given the media’s involvement.

Despite the judge’s media blackout, there’s no doubt the media mob will continue their merry way, flaunting media ethics about the presumption of innocence with endless articles presenting their alleged version of events.

Epoch Times Photo
Brittany Higgins leaves court in Canberra, Australia, on Oct. 14, 2022. (Martin Ollman/Getty Images)

Even after the jury started their deliberations last week, Elle Magazine ran an article that said the court system should not allow defence teams to undermine the credibility of the alleged victims.

Additionally, the next day, the Sydney Morning Herald was happily writing about Higgins’ comments in the trial which alleged that political pressure had made her too allegedly frightened to go to the police.

And then, The Guardian, came up with a most peculiar article that contended courts were silencing assault victims while privileging the accused’s “right to privacy and reputation.”

And in doing so, it appears that these media may have tossed aside any notion of fair treatment and presumption of innocence for the accused. Something our justice system is premised upon.

Meanwhile, conservative media in Australia, particularly the smaller players like Sky News Australia or The Spectator, know all too well that Higgins’s team could potentially engage in defamation suits to silence anyone who presents an alternative view of the situation.

It means commentators like myself simply can’t afford to stick their necks out in public over this one.

So it has been maddening sitting back and watching as the media operators control the narrative throughout this whole saga forgetting the presumption of evidence.

So it goes on.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Bettina Arndt

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Bettina Arndt is an Australian writer and social commentator on gender issues. She was the country’s first sex therapist and feminist, before focusing on men’s rights. Arndt has authored several books and has written for major newspaper titles, magazines, and has featured regularly on television. She received the Order of Australia in 2020 for her work in promoting gender equity through advocacy for men. Find her online at her blog, BettinaArndt.substack.com.



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