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Australian attorney general denies decades-old rape allegation

Australian attorney general denies decades-old rape allegation
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Australia’s top law enforcement officer on Wednesday denied allegations that he raped a girl when he was a teenager.

Attorney General Christian Porter said in a news conference in Perth that an anonymous letter accusing a member of Parliament of raping a 16-year-old girl in 1988 is in reference to him, but denied the claim.

“The things that are claimed to have happened did not happen,” Porter said, according to The New York Times.

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The author of the letter took her own life in 2020. Porter said he had waited until a police investigation concluded to address the claims. Police closed the probe Tuesday and cited lack of evidence, according to the Times.

Porter said he would not resign because doing so would create a precedent under which “any person in Australia can lose their job and their life’s work based on nothing more than an allegation.”

Some female lawmakers and women’s rights advocates said that Canberra, the nation’s capital, has long fostered a “boy’s club” environment that is hostile to women and does not properly address men’s misconduct.

“Parliament has become more and more disconnected from the mores of a modern workplace,” Susan Harris-Rimmer, a law professor at Griffith University, told the Times. “It’s still a gentleman’s club kind of mentality.”

Porter’s press conference came two weeks after a former government aide, Brittany Higgins, filed a police report claiming a colleague raped her in the halls of Parliament two years ago. Higgins said that she pursued charges in the immediate aftermath of the alleged incident but said she felt pressured to drop them by the ruling Liberal Party.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, meanwhile, sparked backlash after he said he did not fully understand the seriousness of Higgins’ claims until his wife asked him to picture the same thing happening to one of their daughters.

“I’ve seen nothing from anyone in the government to suggest that they’ve taken it seriously enough to see some substantive change,” Rachel Burgin, a criminology lecturer at Swinburne Law School, told the newspaper.