AAP reports that Victorian senior Minister Theo Theophanous has hit out at shocking claims made in The Age newspaper today.
He makes very clear a respect for the legal process and his outrage that the Age has published untested claims in circumstances where it might compromise, corrupt or interfere with a Police investigation.
In his first public comments since he stepped aside on Monday pending a police investigation into sexual assault claims, Mr Theophanous reiterated he had done nothing wrong.
He said the publication of the allegations in Fairfax newspapers today could jeopardise a fair process.
“I was shocked to read in today’s Age statements from a person accusing me of the most horrible crimes that are totally against all the moral and religious values I believe in,” he said in a statement.
“These accusations have never been put to me before, and to be put publicly in this way places me in the most difficult position. I have scrupulously tried to avoid making any detailed comment which would amount to interfering in a police inquiry.
“Again, I reaffirm my complete innocence of any wrongdoing.
“When I stepped aside from the ministry two days ago I put my trust in due process, and in the police dealing with this inquiry in a way that was fair to all parties.
“Instead, I have found myself subject to ongoing reports attributed to ‘sources’, and now I face the most distressing direct accusations through the press.”
Mr Theophanous is yet to be interviewed by police.
The alleged victim of the assault told Fairfax Mr Theophanous, 60, raped her after she accepted his offer to be shown around Parliament House late one night in 1998.
The alleged assault contributed to her nervous breakdown and forced her to leave Australia to live with her parents overseas, she said.
“All of these allegations and reports are unbelievably hurtful and devastating to me and to my family,” Mr Theophanous said.
“The public airing of these allegations prejudices what should be a fair process. This has occurred before I have had the opportunity to be interviewed by police.
“Rape is a horrendous crime. To be wrongly accused of such a crime is deeply harmful to me and my family.
“I would again urge the media, those making unproven allegations and whoever is providing leaked information to cease what they are doing, and to allow police to interview me, and go through a process in getting to the truth. I for one have nothing to fear from the truth.”
Premier John Brumby today said the allegations were “as serious as you can get” and said he was shocked by the woman’s story. (He also called on Victoria Police to promptly interview the Minister to resolve this matter)
Mr Theophanous, a 20-year veteran of the Victorian parliament, stood aside as the state’s minister for industry and trade, major projects and information and communications technology.