Brittany Higgins’ boyfriend said he has ‘no regrets’ about quitting his job and standing by his partner amid allegations that she was raped in Parliament House.
The former Liberal Party staffer claimed last Monday that she was assaulted by a male colleague inside their boss Defence Minister Linda Reynolds’ office in 2019 when she was 24.
Ms Higgins’ partner David Sharaz, who worked in Canberra dealing with federal government clients, said his bosses gave him time off to support her but realised he could not keep his job.
Pictured: David Sharaz and his partner Brittany Higgins. Mr Sharaz quit his job amid her rape allegations against a former government worker
Brittany Higgins (pictured) claimed she was assaulted by a male colleague inside their boss Defence Minister Linda Reynolds’ office in 2019 when she was 24
‘My number one priority has always been to support Brittany during this incredibly challenging time,’ he told The Guardian.
‘Unfortunately the events of this last week haven’t been without consequence for Brittany, her family and myself.’
Mr Sharaz is a journalist with extensive experience working for SBS, Sky News and regional broadcaster Win.
He also worked with the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet before taking on a role in January dealing with government clients for a media analytics company.
The former press gallery reporter thanked his employer for giving him time off, but said he was unable to do his job and maintain healthy relationships with ministerial offices in light of Ms Higgins’ allegations.
Mr Sharaz (pictured with Ms Higgins) is a journalist with extensive experience working for SBS, Sky News and regional broadcaster Win
Mr Sharaz said he had ‘absolutely no regrets in choosing to support my partner, and will continue to do so’. Pictured: Brittany Higgins
Mr Sharaz said he had ‘absolutely no regrets in choosing to support my partner, and will continue to do so’.
‘The standard you walk past is the standard you accept. Being supportive is the least that I – or any other partner of a victim-survivor can do.
‘Brittany – and many others deserve better.’
Ms Higgins previously said she did not immediately report the alleged rape to police out of fear that she would lose her ‘dream job’, but resigned earlier this month before making the allegations last Monday – leaving the young couple unemployed.
Her alleged rapist, who has since been accused of sexual harassment by three other women, has checked himself into a private rehabilitation clinic after losing his job at a large corporation.
A spokesperson from the company said the former Liberal staffer started working for the company in July last year, but would not conform whether any employees had reported sexual misconduct.
Brittany Higgins (pictured) went public last week with the allegation she was raped by a male colleague inside Defence Minister Linda Reynolds’ office in 2019
Brittany Higgins’ (pictured) allegations will be formally stated to police on Wednesday
‘Given the nature of your inquiry it is not appropriate to comment further,’ the spokesman told the Sydney Morning Herald.
The man worked for four federal Coalition politicians over a four-year period before he gained a spot in Senator Reynolds’ office.
While Ms Higgins described him as a ‘rising star’ and favourite of the minister, others said the accused was ‘social awkward around women’ and had ‘no female friends whatsoever’.
One politician, who wanted to remain anonymous, described the man as ‘uber-ambitious’ and moved to another job with only one day’s notice.
On March 26, 2019, – four days after the alleged rape – he was fired for breaching security at the office.
Until recently Ms Higgins worked for Employment Minister Michaela Cash (together in Parliament’s Great Hall)
Senator Reynolds (pictured with Ms Higgins) has known about the alleged rape for more than two years but did not inform the prime minister to respect Ms Higgins’ privacy and welfare
Two more women accused the former government worker of rape after Ms Higgins went public last week, and now a fourth alleged victim has taken her story to Canberra police on Sunday.
Labor frontbencher Michelle Rowland said revelations of a fourth victim were ‘deeply disturbing’.
‘There now appears [there was] an alleged serial rapist on the loose in the ministerial wing of Parliament House,’ she told Sky News on Monday.
‘How on earth have we gotten to this position where we now have the Prime Minister saying he didn’t know and no-one thought it was prudent to tell him?’
The fourth woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, told the ABC the ‘really sleazy’ alleged rapist stroked her thigh on a night out in 2017.
Ms Higgins (pictured) said she felt pressured to stay silent in order to keep her dream job
Ms Higgins’ claim, which will be formally stated to police on Wednesday, opened the floodgates for others to share their stories.
The latest woman to come forward was with colleagues at Canberra’s Public Bar in 2017 when the alleged rapist touched her thigh uninvited.
She said it was not the first or last time she received unwanted advances from male colleagues.
‘By that time, I was just so used to sexual harassment I just brushed it off,’ she said.
After speaking to officers from the local police station on Sunday afternoon, the woman said she received a call from the Australian Federal Police’s Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Team.
They asked her to make a formal statement with them later this week, she said.
The third woman said she was assaulted while working as a coalition volunteer during the 2016 election campaign.
She was barely out of school at the time of the attack, which allegedly occurred after a night out drinking with the then-political staffer.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds is seen during Question Time in the Senate chamber at Parliament House in Canberra last week, after Ms Higgins’ allegations were made public
During the night out, she claims he bought her several rounds of ‘double strength’ vodkas and three tequila shots.
The boozy night prompted the young volunteer, who had never been drunk before, to vomit in the nightclub bathroom.
When everybody else had left, the woman said she told him she was going to catch an Uber home, and he suggested they go back to his hotel room ‘around the corner’ instead, and he would ‘look after her’, she told The Australian.
After they arrived, she passed out while laying on his bed and allegedly woke up with her clothes undone and the staffer allegedly lying on top of her.
The woman, who was a virgin, said she was uncertain as to whether he was conscious or sleeping, but she bolted from the room into the hotel lobby toilet, where she discovered she was ‘bleeding’.
Feeling embarrassed and ashamed, the woman made her way home and did not tell police, her family or friends.
‘I believe his actions on the night of 29 June and the morning of 30 June constitute sexual assault, because he performed or tried to perform sexual acts on me whilst I was severely intoxicated and unable to provide valid and informed consent,’ she told The Australian.
‘I later realised I was so drunk, I was not able to give any consent.’
Pictured: Prime Minister Scott Morrison during Question Time in the House of Representatives on February 22
Scott Morrison also believes the culture within Parliament House has to change as he and his government remain under scrutiny over the handling of the matter. Pictured with Ms Higgins
‘Hearing Brittany Higgins’ story, it was so eerily similar, it made me think this person has a pattern of behaviour.’
The second alleged victim claimed she met the ministerial advisor in 2016 when he was working for Senator Reynolds during the election campaign.
‘We went back to my place and we were kissing… we were going to have sex and I said he had to wear a condom,’ she said.
‘He refused and we argued and I told him five or six times that we couldn’t have sex unless he wore a condom. I was drunk and he just got on top of me, I said no, and then he was inside of me and I kept saying no.’
A family friend of the woman confirmed to The Australian she had made the same allegations to her after the alleged rape.
Ms Higgins’ bombshell allegations have rocked Canberra as the Morrison Government plunges into damage control and calls mount for systematic reform of working conditions for parliamentary staffers.
As Ms Reynolds and the Prime Minister’s Office spent the past few days grappling with the political crisis, a second woman came forward to claim the same man assaulted her in 2020 after they went out for a meal and drinks.
An independent review into the workplace culture in Parliament and the Coalition has been launched, as Ms Higgins prepares to make a statement to the Australian Federal Police later this week.
Brittany Higgins (pictured left) took a job with Employment Minister Michaelia Cash (right) after the 2019 election
Mr Morrison’s office has come under scrutiny after claiming it was not aware of the rape allegations until last week, sparking questions about why Senator Reynold’s office had failed to pass on the information.
Senator Reynolds has known about the alleged rape for more than two years but did not inform the prime minister to respect Ms Higgins’ privacy and welfare.
In Question Time on Monday, Senator Reynolds refused to answer a series of questions regarding a meeting with a federal police assistant commissioner about the alleged rape.
‘What we discussed in those meetings is not my story to tell,’ the minister said.
‘I have always, and I continue, to respect her privacy and her story.’
Ms Higgins said that was ‘patently false’.
‘I don’t think she’s ever cared about my privacy,’ she told News Corp.
‘My privacy has been breached at every turn in this process.’
Ms Higgins accused Mr Morrison of using ‘victim-blaming language’ during his response to the revelations, with the Prime Minister later apologising to the former Coalition staffer.
On Saturday, after another woman spoke out, Mr Morrison said he was ‘sickened’ and that the incident is ‘very distressing’.
‘These events truly do sicken me,’ he said.
‘I think we have a problem in the parliament and the workplace culture that exists there that we must continue to improve.’
The second woman was allegedly assaulted by the same man in late 2020.
She argued that if the government had adequately dealt with the incident involving Ms Higgins in 2019, her assault would never have occurred.
Mr Morrison maintains his staff didn’t tell him about the allegation until days after media raised questions with his office.
He has ordered four separates inquiries into the incident.
Labor MP Clare O’Neil said Mr Morrison’s investigations were asking the wrong questions.
‘A lot of the commentary from senior political leaders so far has been the problem here is that women don’t feel safe in this workplace, and the problem here is that we want to work in a building where women don’t feel vulnerable,’ Ms O’Neil told the ABC.
‘That is not the problem we are trying to solve here. Vulnerability did not cause the alleged sexual assault of Brittany Higgins.
‘What caused that assault was a man who felt entitled to commit an illegal act allegedly so close to the prime minister’s office.’