Australia's attorney general Christian Porter speaks during a press conference. AFP
Australia’s attorney-general denied having sexual contact with a 16-year-old who had accused him of raping her 33 years ago and said Wednesday he would not resign as the nation's top law officer.
Christian Porter instead said he would take leave to care for his mental health after the allegations recently became public.
"I’m going to take a couple of short weeks leave just for my own sanity,” Porter told reporters. "I think that I will be able to return from that and do my job.”
The accuser took her own life last year, and her allegations against Porter became public last week when they were sent anonymously to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and other lawmakers.
The 50-year-old former criminal prosecutor said he decided to speak out after police said Tuesday there was insufficient admissible evidence to proceed with a criminal investigation.
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Prominent lawyers and the woman’s friends have called for an independent inquiry to test the evidence against Porter.
Porter said the reported rape allegation did not warrant him standing down from his job.
"If I stand down from my position as attorney-general because of an allegation about something that simply did not happen, then any person in Australia can lose their career, their job, their life’s work based on nothing more than an accusation that appears in print,” Porter said.
Porter said he was 17 when he competed alongside the then-16-year-old accuser on a four-member school debate team in January 1988. He said he had not heard from her since.
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