Australian PM apologizes to ex-staffer alleging rape at work

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks at a press conference to discuss sexual assault allegations against a male staffer at Parliament House in Canberra, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021. Morrison apologized to a former government staffer who alleged she was raped by a colleague in a minister's office two years ago. (Mick Tsikas/AAP Image via AP) (AAP IMAGE)

CANBERRA – Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday apologized to a former government staffer who alleged she was raped by a colleague in a minister’s office two years ago.

The former staffer Brittany Higgins alleged in a television interview on Monday that a colleague had raped her in the office of the then-Defense Industry Minister Linda Reynolds weeks before the 2019 election and that she did not receive the support she needed from bosses or other colleagues.

The man she accused, who has not been named, was fired for a security breach in taking Higgins into the minister’s office and leaving her there on a couch after a night of heavy drinking.

Higgins, who was Reynolds’ media adviser, said she decided not to pursue a police complaint at the time because she felt pressure that doing so would affect her employment.

She resigned in January this year and said she plans to reinstate her police complaint.

“I think that resigning is the only thing I can personally do to say that I don’t think anyone else should go through what I went through,” Higgins told Network Ten.

Morrison said Reynolds should not have questioned Higgins about her accusation in the same office where Higgins alleged the rape took place.

“That should not have happened, and I do apologize,” Morrison told reporters.