The man accused of raping a colleague in Australia’s Parliament House in Canberra has gone on trial.
Political staffer Bruce Lehrmann is charged with sexually assaulting Brittany Higgins on March 2019 in the office of a government minister.
Mr Lehrmann, 27, has pleaded not guilty and denies the pair had sex.
The trial in a Canberra court is scheduled to last up to six weeks and could call on several high-profile witnesses.
The prosecutors opened their case on Tuesday and said the alleged incident had happened after “a drunken night out” with colleagues.
Mr Lehrmann and Ms Higgins had stopped at Parliament House, where they both worked, and a “heavily intoxicated” Ms Higgins soon fell asleep on a sofa in a minister’s office, the jury was told.
She awoke to find the accused’s knee on her thigh, and he was having sex with her, prosecutor Shane Drumgold said.
Mr Drumgold said Ms Higgins had cried throughout the alleged sexual assault and had said “no” half a dozen times.
Her level of intoxication was also “relevant to her absence of consent, as well as the accused’s recklessness”, the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court heard.
When telling a friend what had happened the following day, Ms Higgins said she had been “barely lucid”, the prosecutor said.
Opening the defence case later, Mr Lehrmann’s barrister Steven Whybrow said Ms Higgins’s account contained holes and inconsistencies.
“Mark Twain once said: ‘Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.’ And this case is the epitome of that phrase,” he said.
He urged jurors to ignore previous media coverage of the case, saying his client denies having sex with Ms Higgins.
“He is entitled to that presumption of innocence,” Mr Whybrow said.
Chief Justice Lucy McCallum warned jurors the case had received “a fair measure of media publicity” but that it was “very important” they put this out of their minds.