Brittany Higgins has confirmed she is undergoing mental health treatment in a Queensland-based hospital after the “unrelenting” pressure of recent years.
The former Liberal staffer granted permission for her friend and supporter Emma Webster to release the following statement.
“Brittany is in hospital getting the treatment and support she needs,’’ Ms Webster said.
“The last couple of years have been difficult and unrelenting.”
“While it’s disappointing the trial has ended this way, Brittany’s health and safety must always come first.”
“Brittany is extremely grateful for all the support she has received, particularly from our mental health care workers.”
She was previously hospitalised in June, 2021, to receive care and mental health treatment.
Ms Higgins went public with an allegation she was sexually assaulted at Parliament House in February, 2021.
A former colleague, Bruce Lehrmann was charged with one count of sex without consent in August, 2021.
He has always maintained his innocence and pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Prosecutors drop sexual assault charge against Bruce Lehrmann
New evidence that the “ongoing trauma” associated with the prosecution of Bruce Lehrmann poses an unacceptable risk to the life of the complainant Brittany Higgins has prompted prosecutors to drop the rape charge and not proceed with a second trial.
ACT director of public prosecutions Shane Drumgold confirmed today he had reviewed new medical evidence.
“I have recently received compelling evidence from two independent medical experts, that the ongoing trauma associated with this prosecution presents an unacceptable and significant risk to the life of the complainant,’’ he said.
“The evidence makes it clear this is not limited to the harm of giving evidence in the witness box, rather applies whether or not the complainant is required to re-enter the witness box in the re-trial.
“Whilst the pursuit of justice is essential for my office and the community, the safety of a complainant in a sexual assault matter, must be paramount.
“In light of the compelling independent medical opinions, and balancing all factors, I have made the difficult decision that it is no longer in the public interest to pursue a prosecution at the risk of the complainant’s life.
“This has left me no other options but to file a notice declining to proceed with the retrial of prosecution, which I have done this morning.
“This brings this prosecution to an end.
“Before concluding, during the investigation and trial, as a sexual assault complainant Miss Higgins has faced a level of personal attack that I have not seen in over 20 years of doing this work. She has done so with bravery, grace and dignity, and it is my hope that this now stop that Miss Higgins now be allowed to heal.”
Mr Drumgold read from a prepared statement during the press conference and did not take questions.
He noted that the DPP policy states that “the decision to prosecute should not be made lightly nor automatically but only after due consideration.”
It notes that the decision to prosecute can be understood as a two-stage process.
“First, does the evidence offer reasonable prospects of conviction?
“If so, is it in the public interest to proceed with a prosecution?
“This is a view I still hold today.”
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