Australian police to charge man after allegation of rape in Parliament House

CANBERRA, (Reuters) – Australian police said on Friday they will charge a 26-year-old man after a former government staff member alleged she was raped inside the country’s Parliament House.

Brittany Higgins, a former staffer for then Defence Industry minister Linda Reynolds, went public earlier this year with allegations she was sexually assaulted in Parliament House in March, 2019.

Weeks after going public, Higgins said she had made an official allegation to police. She has since become a prominent campaigner of gender equality and justice for victims of sexual assault and her story helped spark protests around the nation including outside Australia’s parliament.

Federal Police in Canberra, Australia’s capital, said on Friday they had summoned an unnamed man to appear before court in September when he will be charged with sexual intercourse without consent.

Police did not specify which allegation the charges related to but said it occurred in Parliament House on March 23, 2019.

Local media quoted Higgins as saying she had been told by authorities that the summons related to her allegation.

Reuters could not contact Higgins, while her partner did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Higgins’ allegation stirred a groundswell of pressure on Prime Minister Scott Morrison, whose government was already dogged by accusations of improper behaviour towards women.The accused man will face one charge of sexual intercourse without consent. The maximum penalty is 12 years imprisonment, police said.