CANBERRA, Australia (AP) –
Australia’s attorney general denied having sexual contact with a 16-year-old who had accused him of raping her 33 years ago and said on Wednesday that he would not resign as the country’s top legal official.
Instead, Christian Porter said he would take leave to take care of his mental health after the allegations were recently made public.
“I’m going to take a couple of weeks off just for my own sanity,” Porter told reporters. “I think I’ll be able to come back from that and do my job.”
The accuser took her own life last year and her allegations against Porter were made public last week when they were anonymously sent to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and other lawmakers.
Media reported that the alleged rapist was one of 16 men in Morrison’s 22-member cabinet, but Porter was widely identified online.
The 50-year-old former criminal prosecutor said he decided to speak after police said Tuesday that there was insufficient admissible evidence to proceed with a criminal investigation.
Prominent attorneys and friends of the woman have called for an independent investigation to prove the evidence against Porter.
Morrison has noted Porter’s denials and said the allegations should be left to the police.
Porter said any investigation into the allegation would require him to “disapprove of something that didn’t happen 33 years ago.”
Buy Michael Bradley, the alleged victim’s former attorney, said there would be “trial by the media” in the absence of a formal investigation.
“Not all of us should want that to happen, but it will happen if the accusation and its answer are not proven in a proper formal process,” Bradley said.
Porter said the rape report does not justify her leaving her job.
“If I retire from my position as Attorney General due to an allegation about something that just didn’t happen, then anyone in Australia can lose their career, their job, their life’s work for nothing more than an indictment that appears in print.” Porter said.
“If that happens, anyone in public life can be removed simply by printing an indictment,” he added.
Porter said she was 17 when she competed alongside the 16-year-old accuser on a four-member school debate team in January 1988. He said he had not heard from her since.
“I did not sleep with the (alleged) victim. We didn’t have anything of that nature between us, ”Porter said.
“I remember the person as an intelligent, bright and happy person,” he added.
The woman has not been named. The police are preparing evidence to help a coroner determine the cause of his death.
The case has added to heightened scrutiny of attitudes toward sexual harassment and violence in Parliament after a staff member made an unrelated allegation two weeks ago that she had been raped by a senior colleague in the office. of a minister.
The government notified House of Parliament staff in an email this week about a new confidential complaints hotline for reporting serious workplace incidents.