An ABC reporter has detailed an allegation of sexual assault by NSW Labor Party leader Luke Foley, stating he reached under her dress and groped her at a 2016 Christmas party.

In a statement published by the ABC, Ashleigh Raper alleges she attended a November 2016 function at New South Wales Parliament House, along with other political reporters, politicians, and parliamentary staff.

She states the party eventually moved to Martin Place Bar, where “Luke Foley approached a group of people, including me, to say goodnight.”

He stood next to me.

He put his hand through a gap in the back of my dress and inside my underpants.

He rested his hand on my buttocks.

I completely froze.

Raper alleges the incident was observed by former Sydney Morning Herald and current ABC journalist Sean Nicholls, and that they discussed the matter at the time.

She states she asked Nicholls to keep the incident a confidential matter, a request he respected, and that she did not choose to make a formal complaint to police, her employer, or any other authority over concerns it could impact her career as a parliamentary reporter.

I cherished my position as a state political reporter and feared that would be lost.

I also feared the negative impact the publicity could have on me personally and on my young family.

This impact is now being felt profoundly.

Raper said she felt compelled to give her version of events after she was asked about it by a fellow reporter, and after allegations of indecent behaviour at the November 2016 function were raised in State Parliament by Corrections Minister David Elliott a fortnight ago.

The reporter said the allegations were heard in Parliament without her prior knowledge or consent.

The alleged incident is also being investigated by the ABC, after Liberal Party Senator Eric Abetz questioned ABC acting managing director David Anderson over the allegations in a recent Senate estimates hearing.

Raper states she received an apology from Foley last Sunday, November 4, along with a commitment to resign as leader of the NSW Labor Party by Wednesday, November 7.

However, Raper says she was called by Foley again on Melbourne Cup Day. Foley allegedly told her he had “received legal advice not to resign as Opposition Leader.”

“There are three things I want to come from my decision to make this statement,” Raper says.

First, women should be able to go about their professional lives and socialise without being subject to this sort of behaviour.

And I want it to stop.

Second, situations like mine should not be discussed in parliament for the sake of political point scoring.

And I want it to stop.

Third, I want to get on with my life.

I do not wish to make any further comment.

In a rebuke of the way the allegations were first aired in Parliament, the ABC itself states it is “extremely unfortunate that media and public pressure has been applied to Ms Raper during these past months and caused her to speak publicly on an issue she did not wish to pursue or to comment on.”

At the time of publication, neither Foley nor federal Labor leader Bill Shorten had commented on the allegations. When approached by journalists, Shorten said he had not read the statement from the ABC.

We will keep you updated.

Source: ABC
Image: AAP