Five years ago almost to the day, Luke Lazarus had sex with an 18-year-old woman in a laneway outside his father’s club in Kings Cross. Whether or not that sex constituted rape played out in two trials over the next several years. The first court found him guilty of rape, his retrial overturned that, and the NSW court of criminal appeal decided in 2017 that he should not face a second retrial because it would “give rise to oppression and unfairness”.
The events around the encounter are well known to anyone who followed the case. Lazarus, then 21, met the 18-year-old woman at Soho nightclub. They went outside, and he, after discovering she was a virgin, had anal sex with her while she was on her hands and knees. She later testified in court that she told him to stop, something he vehemently denies. Afterwards, he texted a friend bragging about how he’d taken some girl’s virginity, and she found her friends and cried.
As is the norm with cases involving sexual assault, the woman’s identity has remained suppressed. Now, the she’s speaking out in order to help continue the conversation around enthusiastic consent, and identifying herself as Saxon Mullins.
“There’s something I need to get off my chest,” she says, in an upcoming episode of Four Corners. “You might have heard the story; what happened in the laneway behind the nightclub in Kings Cross. I am that girl. Those awful things happened to me. I was 18.”
The Four Corners piece (and accompanying written piece, published on ABC), covers the specific events of that night, and the trials that followed.
“I went through two criminal trials and appeals,” Mullins says in the promo. “The person found guilty by a jury was then found not guilty by a judge. His criminal conviction has been erased. He is free to move on with his life. The reality is, this doesn’t get to be over for me. I don’t get to know who I’d be today had this not happened to me. And I mourn for that person. I lost something that night, all those years ago, and I’ve been searching for it ever since.”
The case sparked a massive conversation around enthusiastic consent, and one that we’re not done having yet. During the trials, Lazarus – who declined to be interviewed by Four Corners – conceded that Mullins did not believe she had consented, but continually claimed that he believed she did.
“And the fact that I have done this unknowingly to Saxon, I’m absolutely sickened to my stomach. I’m so sorry to her,” he said.
“I would never, ever, intentionally hurt someone. And to Saxon, from the bottom of my heart, I’m sorry.”
Mullins, who friends say has dealt with anxiety since that night and who says she struggled with feelings of guilt after the trial, says she’s speaking out now to further the conversation around enthusiastic consent.
“On a social level, we need to teach people about making sure that the person you are with wants to be with you,” she says.
“Enthusiastic consent is really easy to determine, and I think if you don’t have that, then you’re not good to go.
“All you need to say is, ‘Do you want to be here?’ And very clearly, ‘Do you want to have sex with me?’
“And if it’s not an enthusiastic ‘yes’, then it’s not enough. If it’s not an enthusiastic ‘yes’, it’s a ‘no’. That’s it. And then, you’re committing a crime. Simple as that.”
You can watch the Four Corners episode, I Am That Girl, tonight on ABC at 8:30pm or on ABC iView.