Australian senator accuses colleague in parliament of sexual assault


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Australian lawmaker Lidia Thorpe accused fellow Senator David Van of sexual assault on Wednesday, before being forced to withdraw her remarks under threat of parliamentary sanction. Thorpe repeated her allegations Thursday, saying she had been afraid to walk through Australia’s halls of power.

“What I experienced was being followed, aggressively propositioned and inappropriately touched,” Thorpe said, according to the AFP news agency. “I know there are others that have experienced similar things and have not come forward in the interests of their careers.”

Australia Senator Expelled
Independent Australian Sen. Lidia Thorpe makes a statement in the Senate chamber at Australia’s Parliament House in Canberra, June 15, 2023.

Mick Tsikas/AP

AFP quoted her as saying Australia’s parliament was “not a safe place” for women to work.

Van denied the allegations and called for an investigation. His conservative Liberal political party expelled him on Thursday.

Thorpe’s remarks came after Van made a speech in parliament about another high-profile case of alleged sexual assault in Australian politics involving a former political aide, Brittany Higgins, who said a fellow staffer had raped her in a cabinet minister’s office in 2019.

“I’m feeling really uncomfortable when a perpetrator is speaking about violence,” Thorpe said, interrupting Van. “This person harassed me, sexually assaulted me, and the prime minister had to remove him from his office, and to have him talking about this today is an absolute disgrace.”

Australia Senator Expelled
Liberal party Sen. David Van makes a statement in the Senate chamber at Australia’s Parliament House in Canberra, June 15, 2023. Australia’s main opposition party expelled Van after a female senator accused him of sexual assault in the latest evidence of a toxic culture in Parliament House that is hostile to women.

Mick Tsikas/AP

Higgins said she was dissuaded from reporting the alleged rape by Australia’s then-conservative-led government, which she claimed had treated her allegations as a political problem. Her case sparked national protests, a high profile trial and a number of investigations that found there was a persistent culture of bullying and sexual harassment in Australian politics. 

“Since the airing of Sen. Thorpe’s allegation yesterday, further allegations in relation to Sen. Van have been brought to my attention,” the leader of Van’s party told reporters Thursday, according to The Associated Press.

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Lisa Holden
Lisa Holden
Lisa Holden is a news writer for LinkDaddy News. She writes health, sport, tech, and more. Some of her favorite topics include the latest trends in fitness and wellness, the best ways to use technology to improve your life, and the latest developments in medical research.

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