A Labor MP has been accused of rape in an email sent to another politician, the latest in a chain of allegations engulfing Parliament House.
Victorian Liberal senator Sarah Henderson received the email from a woman on Sunday, claiming a federal parliamentarian raped her.
‘Late this afternoon, I forwarded to the Australian Federal Police an email I received this afternoon from a woman alleging she had been raped by a man who is now a federal Labor member of Parliament,’ she said.
‘In immediately referring this matter to the AFP, I have followed procedures set out by Commissioner Kershaw in his letter of February 24, 2021,’ she said. ‘I make this statement in the interests of full transparency.’
The email arrived just days after a letter was sent to Scott Morrison, Penny Wong, and Greens senator Sarah-Hanson-Young claiming a Liberal minister raped a teenager in 1988.
Victorian Liberal senator Sarah Henderson received an email from a woman on Sunday, claiming a Labor MP in federal parliament had raped her
Scott Morrison was notified about another alleged rape, at the hands of a Liberal MP, this week
A string of alleged rapes at the hands of government ministers have been uncovered in recent weeks after former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins came forward claiming she was sexually assaulted by a colleague at Parliament House in 2019
Labor leader Anthony Albanese’s office said it had not received the email.
‘The Australian Labor Party has seen media reports that Senator Henderson has received an allegation of sexual assault and has referred any relevant correspondence to authorities as is appropriate,’ it told the Sydney Morning Herald.
The Australian Federal Police confirmed it received a complaint about a ‘historic sexual assault’.
A string of alleged rapes at the hands of government ministers have been uncovered in recent weeks after former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins came forward claiming she was sexually assaulted by a colleague at Parliament House in 2019.
The previous allegation was by a 49-year-old woman who claimed a current federal cabinet minister raped her in 1998 when she was 16.
The woman took her own life in Adelaide last June after coming forward, prompting former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull to call for an inquest into her death.
The Australian Federal Police confirmed it received a complaint about a ‘historic sexual assault’. Pictured: Scott Morrison and Sarah Henderson
Emails the woman wrote to a friend have since been made public, where she wrote that despite hoping the man would be charged, she feared a trial would become an ’emotional bloodbath’.
‘I guess I just worry, that a trial (if one occurs) has the potential to be an emotional bloodbath, particularly for me and anyone who appears as a witness in the case,’ she wrote in correspondence obtained exclusively by news.com.au.
An investigation into the alleged rape was ended by NSW police after she died.
The emails, written in 2019, also revealed the woman had meticulously kept evidence pertaining to the alleged rape.
‘I’ve also been wondering about the evidence. I have a lot of corroborative material, which I’ve included in the appendices of the account I will send you shortly. Most of it comes from my diaries, journals and scrapbooks. These were created in the 1980s-90s,’ she wrote.
‘Obviously, the items about (redacted) are crucial. There are other entries, which refer to other people. I have their permission to include them (I have this weird hang up, about consent).
‘But some of the other entries are extremely personal (well, all of them are, of course, as I wrote them for myself alone, using my diary as a confidante).
The woman said that certain parts of Adelaide triggered bad memories for her.
‘Being in Adelaide has also had its moments. I have taken photos of two key locations: a former T-shirt shop in Hindley, where (redacted) bought a tank top, and the hotel we were all in staying in 1986, when we first met.
‘These are also described and documented in the account. However, I found this very hard to do, revisit those sites,’ she said.
Senator Hanson-Young (picured) said the letter she had received regarded a ‘disturbing and a very serious allegation of a criminal nature against a senior member of the government’
‘This prompted me to go to the local police. I have had 2 informal, off-the-record conversations with SA CIB (Grenfell St station, the main one in Adelaide’s CBD). I told them what had happened to me in 1988, and who the perpetrator was/is.’
‘They have reassured me that: 1) I need not report, they would understand. 2) They take these matters extremely seriously, I could report in SA (which I did not know) and it will be investigated. they estimate the investigation would take about a year.
‘3) Given the corroborative evidence I have, and my clear memories, they think it would probably go to trial.’
The woman also wrote that she was ‘sectioned’ for mental health concerns after taking herself to Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital.
She told staff that she had felt suicidal in the past, but a psychiatrist told her to stop talking about the alleged rape as it would keep ‘retriggering’ her.
The bombshell accusations, which surfaced a week after former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins came forward about her own alleged rape at the hands of a colleague, have led to Mr Turnbull to seek an inquest.
He said the woman had written to him and his wife Lucy in 2019 to ask for their advice on the matter.
‘She described a pretty horrific rape that she said had occurred at the hands of this person,’ he told the crowd of an Adelaide writers event on Sunday.
The letter came with a detailed statement attached, prepared by the complainant for her lawyer, ABC’s Four Corners has reported.
On Saturday Senator Wong issued a further statement ‘in the interests of transparency’ revealing she had detailed prior knowledge of the matter.
‘I first became aware of the complainant’s allegation when I ran into her in Adelaide in November 2019,’ the senator wrote.
‘The complainant reminded me we had met once before.’
‘The complainant made an allegation that she had been raped many years earlier by a person who is now a senior member of the federal government. She indicated she intended to report the matter to NSW Police.
‘I said that making a report to the appropriate authorities was the right thing to do. I facilitated her referral to rape support services and confirmed she was being supported in reporting the matter to NSW Police.’
Labor senator Penny Wong (pictured) received a letter about the alleged 1988 rape by a now senior federal government minister
Ms Higgins’ going public with allegations of 2019 rape started the dominoes of numerous other sexual assault claims either being made, or first entering the public realm after being earlier reported to police.
Ms Higgins was working as a media advisor for Defence Minister Linda Reynolds at the time she was allegedly raped by another staffer after a night out.
The Morrison Government has been under intense pressure over its response to the 2019 incident ever since Ms Higgins came forward with her claims.
Three more women accused the former senior staffer of rape after she went public and he was dumped from his new job.
A fourth woman, who wished to remain anonymous, told the ABC the ‘really sleazy’ alleged rapist stroked her thigh on a night out in 2017.
The latest woman to come forward was with colleagues at Canberra’s Public Bar in 2017 when the alleged rapist touched her thigh uninvited.
The third woman said she was assaulted while working as a coalition volunteer during the 2016 election campaign.
She was barely out of school at the time of the attack, which allegedly occurred after a night out drinking with the then-political staffer.
Ms Higgins’ claim opened the floodgates for others to share their stories
During the night out, she claims he bought her several rounds of ‘double strength’ vodkas and three tequila shots.
When everybody else had left, the woman said she told him she was going to catch an Uber home, and he suggested they go back to his hotel room ‘around the corner’ instead, and he would ‘look after her’, she told The Australian.
After they arrived, she passed out while laying on his bed and allegedly woke up with her clothes undone and the staffer allegedly lying on top of her.
The woman, who was a virgin, said she was uncertain as to whether he was conscious or sleeping, but she bolted from the room into the hotel lobby toilet, where she discovered she was ‘bleeding’.
Ms Higgins was working as a media advisor for Defence Minister Linda Reynolds at the time she was allegedly raped by another staffer after a night out
Feeling embarrassed and ashamed, the woman made her way home and did not tell police, her family or friends.
‘Hearing Brittany Higgins’ story, it was so eerily similar, it made me think this person has a pattern of behaviour,’ she said.
The second alleged victim claimed she met the ministerial advisor in 2016 when he was working for Senator Reynolds during the election campaign.
‘We went back to my place and we were kissing… we were going to have sex and I said he had to wear a condom,’ she said.
‘He refused and we argued and I told him five or six times that we couldn’t have sex unless he wore a condom. I was drunk and he just got on top of me, I said no, and then he was inside of me and I kept saying no.’
Ms Higgins’ claim opened the floodgates for others to share their stories.
A woman took her own life in Adelaide last June after coming forward about allegedly being sexually assaulted by a Liberal minister as a teenager in 1988.
Senator Penny Wong, along with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, received a letter about the alleged rape this week.
It is understood the letter was not written by her.
Senator Wong released an initial statement on Friday saying she had referred the letter to the Australian Federal Police and was aware the matter was already before NSW and South Australian police.