The ACT Supreme Court has dismissed a request to halt trial proceedings by the man accused of allegedly raping Brittany Higgins in Parliament House. That means the trial will go ahead in June.
Bruce Lehrmann‘s counsel requested a permanent stay, or a temporary stay, of the trial in March. A stay essentially means a halt to the proceedings. So a permanent stay could potentially have halted the trial indefinitely.
Lehrmann has denied assaulting Higgins and pled not guilty to the charge of sexual intercourse without consent.
His request was dismissed by ACT Chief Justice Lucy McCallum on Friday.
According to McCallum, part of Lehrmann’s application was that it’d be “impossible” for the court to find 12 jurors who were impartial in the case.
In the ACT, people who are accused of sex crimes must face a trial by jury.
The second point was that the “damaging publicity is of such a nature that nothing a trial judge can do in the conduct of the trial can relieve against the unfair consequences of that publicity”, as reported by News.com.au.
As well as the stay, Lehrmann’s legal team applied for a take-down order directed at media outlets. That would’ve required outlets to take down certain articles about the case.
Ultimately, McCallum rejected both the stay and the request for a take-down order. She explained the latter in a redacted judgement.
“For the reasons already stated, I am not persuaded that the material which the evidence establishes remains on the internet is of a kind that cannot be addressed by appropriate direction to the jury,” she said as per The Guardian.
The trial is scheduled to begin on June 6th 2022 and last for around six weeks.
Help is available.
If you require immediate assistance, please call 000.
If you’d like to speak to someone about sexual violence, please call the 1800 Respect hotline on 1800 737 732 or chat online.
Under 25? You can reach Kids Helpline at 1800 55 1800 or chat online.