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- Australian politician
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — An Australian government minister dropped his defamation lawsuit against Australian Broadcasting Corp. on Monday and committed to contest the next election as the state broadcaster acknowledged a 33-year-old rape allegation against him could not be substantiated.
Christian Porter, minister for industry, science and technology, and the ABC said the case had been settled under confidential terms without any damages being paid.
Porter said he did not decide to sue to make money.
“The hurt and harm that the reporting of this matter has caused to my reputation, to my family, is beyond any form of compensation,” Porter told reporters.
Despite the damage to his reputation, Porter said he would “absolutely” run for re-election at general elections to be held within a year.
The government will seek a fourth three-year term in the next election, but holds the narrowest of majorities.
Porter was attorney general when ABC reported in February that an unnamed Cabinet minister was facing a rape allegation from years before.
Days later, Porter outed himself as the minister and denied the allegation that he had raped a 16-year-old girl in 1988 when he was 17.
The accuser killed herself last year and police have said they are not investigating the allegation.
The allegation added to intensifying scrutiny of attitudes toward sexual harassment and violence within Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s conservative government.
A staffer had made an unrelated allegation two weeks earlier that she had been raped by a senior colleague in 2019 in the Parliament House office of minister Linda Reynolds.
Both Reynolds and Porter were demoted in a Cabinet reshuffle in March, but remain ministers.
ABC said it “regretted” that some readers misinterpreted its report as an accusation that Porter was guilty.
“The ABC did not intend to suggest that Mr. Porter had committed the criminal offences alleged,” an ABC statement said.
“The ABC did not contend that the serious accusations could be substantiated to the applicable legal standard – criminal or civil,” the statement added.