Bruce Lehrmann Appears on Second Rape Charge

Former Liberal Party staffer Bruce Lehrmann, found in a civil court to have raped Brittany Higgins, appeared today over allegations he raped another woman.
Bruce Lehrmann Appears on Second Rape Charge
Bruce Lehrmann arrives at the Federal Court of Australia in Sydney, on Feb. 13, 2024. (AAP Image/Bianca De Marchi)
Former Liberal Party political staffer Bruce Lehrmann, found by a civil court judge to have raped Brittany Higgins, today faced a committal hearing in the Toowoomba Magistrates Court on two rape charges related to a different woman in October 2021.

A criminal trial in 2022 for the rape was later aborted and the charge against him dropped. Mr. Lehrmann appealed the finding in a defamation trial, which was unsuccessful.

Little is known about the details of the current charges, and the complainant gave evidence for about an hour in a closed court today from a remote location via video link.

Magistrate Mark Howden also granted an application that Mr. Lehrmann be obscured from the woman’s view while she testified.

Media organisations had asked, via barrister Jess Goldie, to be permitted to remain in the courtroom for the complainant’s evidence or to observe from another location, but Crown Prosecutor Nicole Friedewald told the court that the complainant opposed having the media present in any way while she testified.

One of Mr. Lehrmann’s barristers, Andrew Hoare KC, was also opposed, and the magistrate refused the application.

What is known about the complaint is that, according to police evidence, she first met Mr. Lehrmann at an adult entertainment venue in October 2021. She made rape the allegation a few weeks later after recognising him in media reports on the Brittany Higgins’ rape allegation.

Media Scrum

Mr. Lehrmann arrived early, perhaps hoping to avoid a media scrum, but he was unsuccessful.

Once in court, he sat with his solicitor, Rowan King, and was represented by two barristers, Mr. Hoare and Patrick Wilson.

Mr. Hoare provided a 12-page outline of submissions and indicated that an oral submission, that there is no case to answer, is expected to be made when the court resumes on July 4.

In addition to examining the complainant, Ms. Friedewald produced more than a dozen witness statements, including several from the complainant and police officers investigating the case.

She later revealed that the Crown had an additional statement from the complainant, dated today, which was also tendered to the court.

Despite this, Mr. Hoare said he would make submissions “in respect of the sufficiency of the evidence to place my client on trial” when the case came back before the court.

The magistrate continued Mr. Lehrmann’s bail and allowed him to appear via audiovisual link in July.

Mr. Lehrmann did not speak to the media when leaving the court after proceedings were adjourned.

Rex Widerstrom is a New Zealand-based reporter with over 40 years of experience in media, including radio and print. He is currently a presenter for Hutt Radio.
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