A third woman has alleged that she was sexually assaulted by the same man accused of assaulting former ministerial staffer Brittany Higgins at Parliament House in 2019.
Last week Higgins alleged that she was sexually assaulted by a colleague in then-defence industry minister Linda Reynolds’ office, prompting four inquiries into workplace processes and culture at Parliament House, and when the prime minister’s office became aware of the incident.
Over the weekend, reports emerged of a second woman who alleged she had been raped by the same man last year.
On Monday morning The Australian reported that a third woman has come forward to allege the same man sexually assaulted her nearly five years ago after a night of drinking.
She told the publication that she did not go to the police following the incident because she was “severely embarrassed” and ashamed. Higgins’ story prompted her to come forward because it was “so eerily similar”.
The woman had volunteered for the Coalition during a 2016 election campaign.
Higgins will reportedly make a statement to the Australian Federal Police on Wednesday to initiate an investigation into the incident.
Questions have been raised over when Prime Minister Scott Morrison or his staff first learnt of the alleged rape. While Morrison has maintained that he first became aware of it last week, text messages have emerged that suggest his office was told of the incident within a fortnight of it occurring.
Higgins has also said at least three of Morrison’s staff knew of the incident before it was aired by the media last week.
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet secretary Phil Gaetjens has been tasked with investigating which staff in the prime minister’s office knew of the incident, and when. Meanwhile, PM&C deputy secretary Stephanie Foster will review processes for workplace complaints at Parliament House.