Bruce Lehrmann (file image)
Network Ten agreed to discount the funds it was seeking from Bruce Lehrmann. Image by Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS
  • crime, law and justice

Woman claims Lehrmann said ‘it’s OK’ during sex assault

Rex Martinich July 4, 2024

After a night out together a woman woke up to find Bruce Lehrmann sexually assaulting her while telling her “it’s OK, it’s OK”, a court has been told.

Former Liberal Party staffer Lehrmann has been committed to stand trial on two rape charges following two days of hearings into the reliability of the alleged victim’s evidence.

Lehrmann is accused of raping the woman twice during the morning of October 10, 2021 after they met at a strip club the previous night in Toowoomba, west of Brisbane.

Bruce Lehrmann (file image)
 The woman claimed she consumed cocaine with Bruce Lehrmann and she was woken up by him raping her. Image by Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS 

The woman told police she met Lehrmann and discussed their political beliefs before catching a taxi to his friend’s house, having consensual sex and consuming cocaine about 4am.

The woman said she was woken up about 10am by Lehrmann sexually assaulting her.

“I remember rolling back and putting my arm on him and saying ‘stop’,” she said.

She claimed Lehrmann kept having sex with her, saying “it’s OK, it’s OK” while she lay limp in bed.

“I was not lying there enthusiastic … I was in shock,” she told police.

Lehrmann afterwards took the woman to get emergency contraception and coffee.

After oral arguments on Thursday morning, Magistrate Mark Howden found the case had sufficient evidence to go to trial.

“Ultimately, the reliability of the (alleged victim’s) evidence will be a matter for an arbiter of fact, either a judge sitting alone or a jury,” Mr Howden told Toowoomba Magistrates Court.

Defence barrister Andrew Hoare had argued Lehrmann should not face trial on the charges because the alleged victim was too intoxicated to remember giving consent.

Defence Barrister Andrew Hoare arrives at Toowoomba Magistrates Court
 Andrew Hoare said the alleged victim was too intoxicated to remember giving consent. Image by Rex Martinich/AAP PHOTOS 

Mr Hoare said the woman obtained emergency contraception, and ticked a box that she needed the pill as her other contraception had failed and not due to sexual assault.

About a month later, she saw media coverage of Lehrmann being charged with the rape of Brittany Higgins in the office of then-defence industry minister Linda Reynolds at Parliament House in March 2019, while both were employed by the senator.

The woman then googled “Brittany Higgins rapist” and recognised Lehrmann, who had told her his name was Bryce.

“Honestly, if I had not found out who he was, I would not have reported it I think,” the woman said in a text message.

Mr Hoare also said Lehrmann could have mistakenly believed he had consent given he had earlier obtained consent for a similar sex act.

Crown prosecutor Nicole Friedewald said there was a prima facie case to answer on both charges.

“(The law) requires consent is given to each act. It does not mean consent to every act from then on,” she said.

Claimed inconsistencies in the woman’s statement were not uncommon for alleged victims of sexual assault, Ms Friedewald said.

“Ticking a certain box on a contraceptive checklist or not telling friends or a GP does not mean it did not happen,” she said.

“It’s not uncommon for victims of offences of those kinds to wait, days, weeks, months or years before disclosing.”

Crown prosecutor Nicole Friedewald
 Nicole Friedewald said claimed inconsistencies were not uncommon for alleged sexual assault victims. Image by Rex Martinich/AAP PHOTOS 

Mr Howden ruled a reasonable jury, properly instructed, could potentially find the allegations proven beyond reasonable doubt.

He told Lehrmann, who attended remotely via phone, he would stand trial on two counts of rape in Toowoomba District Court at a date to be set.

Asked if he wanted to say anything or enter a plea, Lehrmann said: “Not at this time, thank you, Your Honour.”

Lehrmann’s bail was continued.

Mr Hoare said outside court that it would not be appropriate for a barrister to comment about an ongoing matter.

Lehrmann denied raping Ms Higgins and that case ended in a mistrial, with prosecutors withdrawing the charge and ruling out a new trial due to concern for Ms Higgins’ mental health.

Justice Michael Lee in April found to the civil standard that Lehrmann did, on the balance of probabilities, rape Ms Higgins and dismissed his defamation proceedings against Network Ten.

Lehrmann filed an appeal and was later ordered to pay $2 million in costs over his failed defamation case.

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

National Sexual Abuse and Redress Support Service 1800 211 028