‘Time to heal’: Higgins breaks silence on Lehrmann case

Samantha Lock |

“I was raped – no judgement was ever going to change this truth,” Brittany Higgins says.
“I was raped – no judgement was ever going to change this truth,” Brittany Higgins says.

Brittany Higgins says it’s “time to heal” as she speaks for the first time since a judge ruled Bruce Lehrmann raped her at Parliament House, apologising to those “hurt” in the aftermath.

Justice Michael Lee found on the balance of probabilities Lehrmann raped the then 24-year-old in then-defence minister Linda Reynolds’ office in March 2019.

In findings delivered on Monday, Justice Lee found Lehrmann was so “hell-bent” on having sex with Ms Higgins that he was indifferent to her consent and raped her.

Posting to her personal Instagram account on Saturday, Ms Higgins said: “I was raped – no judgement was ever going to change this truth.” 

“I lived with the shame, humiliation and fear of what telling my story would mean for my life and career, like so many other victim survivors,” she said,

Ms Higgins thanked Justice Lee for his “trauma-informed approach” and for “recognising that reactions to assault can vary wildly”.

“In doing so, I hope he has set a precedent for how courts consider the testimonies of victim survivors of sexual assault,” she said.

Delivering his findings on Monday, Justice Lee told the Federal Court “Mr Lehrmann raped Ms Higgins”. 

While there was no evidence Lehrmann knew that Ms Higgins did not consent to the sexual activity, he was recklessly indifferent to her rights, the judge said.

Bruce Lehrmann
Justice Michael Lee found on the balance of probabilities Bruce Lehrmann raped Brittany Higgins. (Bianca De Marchi/AAP PHOTOS)

Ms Higgins appears ready to move on from the drawn-out proceedings, marathon defamation suit and abandoned criminal trial.

“It has been five years of criminal and civil trials and government inquiries for the truth to finally be revealed,” she said.

“It is now time to heal.”

Ms Higgins also expressed sympathy for the toll the proceedings have had on her former boss senator Linda Reynolds and former chief of staff Fiona Brown.

“For that I am also sorry,” the former Liberal Party staffer said.

“My perceptions and feelings about what happened in the days and weeks after my rape are different from theirs.

“I deeply regret we have not yet found common ground.

“I hope we can resolve our differences with a better understanding of each other’s experience.”

Senator Reynolds has launched defamation proceedings against Ms Higgins and Mr Sharaz over social media comments made about her. 

Linda Reynolds
Brittany Higgins says she hopes she and former boss Linda Reynolds “can resolve our differences”. (Richard Wainwright/AAP PHOTOS)

Lehrmann suffered courtroom devastation earlier this week, failing to restore his tarnished reputation.

The 28-year-old sued Ten and journalist Lisa Wilkinson for defamation over a February 2021 interview with Ms Higgins that aired on The Project and contained the rape allegations.

But Justice Lee ruled against Lehrmann and in favour of Ten and Ms Wilkinson after the broadcaster succeeded in its truth defence that the rape most likely did take place.

A criminal trial against Lehrmann was abandoned in 2022 with no findings made against him.

“Having escaped the lions’ den, Mr Lehrmann made the mistake of going back for his hat,” Justice Lee said.

The case will soon be back before the courts to determine the issue of legal costs.

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