UPDATE: Since publishing, Luke Foley has resigned as Opposition Leader, and claims he will sue the ABC for defamation.
Well this is truly messed up. We’ve made some decent progress in recent years when it comes to equality, sexual acceptance and societal rules. But it’s like we take one step forward and then two steps back.
For anyone not following, Luke Foley is the leader of the Opposition/Labor Party in NSW. Given the absolute shit-show from the Liberal Government in recent years, he had an overwhelmingly good chance of becoming Premier at the next State Elections.
But today, after a series of murmurs in and around the political and reporting circles, ABC journalist Ashleigh Raper released a full statement about an incident in 2016 where Foley sexually assaulted her at a party. The statement (in full below), is a sad indictment on the times and just how much work we still have to do as a society to stop being such terrible people.
Foley is claimed to have put his hand down the back of Raper’s pants during the party, and in the time after apparently contacted Raper to tell her that he was “not a philanderer”, “not a groper”, but simply “a drunk idiot”.
We’re not just talking about any drunk idiot here, we’re talking about the leader of a political party that was all but guaranteed to be Premier of NSW in a few months.
What’s even sadder is Raper’s worry that she would potentially lose her job and be ostracised for being honest . about what happened. Boy, we have a lot of work to do and it really makes you wonder – who do the fuck can we trust in politics anymore?
This was the full statement found on the ABC:
STATEMENT BY ASHLEIGH RAPER
This is a position I never wanted to be in and a statement I never intended to make.
But I think the time has come for my voice to be heard, for the following reasons:
The escalation of the public debate, including in state and federal parliament, despite my expressed wish to neither comment nor complain, and the likelihood of ongoing media and political interest.
Two recent phone conversations with the Leader of the New South Wales Opposition Luke Foley.
To set the record straight.
In November 2016 I attended an official Christmas function at New South Wales Parliament House for state political reporters, politicians and their staff.
This is what happened on that night.
The party moved from Parliament House to Martin Place Bar after a number of hours.
Later in the evening, Luke Foley approached a group of people, including me, to say goodnight.
He stood next to me.
He put his hand through a gap in the back of my dress and inside my underpants.
He rested his hand on my buttocks.
I completely froze.
This was witnessed by Sean Nicholls, who was then the state political editor at the Sydney Morning Herald and is now an ABC journalist.
Mr Foley then left the bar.
Sean and I discussed what happened.
As shaken as I was, I decided not to take any action and asked Sean to keep the events in the strictest confidence.
He has honoured that.
I chose not to make a complaint for a number of reasons.
It is clear to me that a woman who is the subject of such behaviour is often the person who suffers once a complaint is made.
I cherished my position as a state political reporter and feared that would be lost.
I also feared the negative impact the publicity could have on me personally and on my young family.
This impact is now being felt profoundly.
When a reporter contacted me earlier this year after hearing about the incident, I informed ABC news management about Mr Foley’s actions.
I told them I didn’t wish to make a complaint or for any further action to be taken.
They respected my request for privacy and have offered me nothing but their absolute care and support.
David Elliot raised the matter in the New South Wales Parliament last month, putting the incident in the public domain.
The matter then became a state and federal political issue and resulted in intense media attention.
This occurred without my involvement or consent.
Last Sunday (4 November) Luke Foley called me on my mobile phone and we had a conversation that lasted 19 minutes.
He said he was sorry and that he was full of remorse for his behaviour towards me at the Press Gallery Christmas function in November 2016.
He told me that he had wanted to talk to me about that night on many occasions over the past two years because, while he was drunk and couldn’t remember all the details of the night, he knew he did something to offend me.
He apologised again and told me, “I’m not a philanderer, I’m not a groper, I’m just a drunk idiot”.
He said he would be resigning as the leader of the New South Wales Labor Party on either the next day (Monday, 5 November) or Wednesday (7 November).
He said he couldn’t resign on the Tuesday because it was Melbourne Cup Day and he didn’t want to be accused of burying the story.
On Tuesday (6 November) Mr Foley called me again.
He repeated his apology and told me he owed me “a lot of contrition”.
He informed me he’d received legal advice not to resign as Opposition Leader.
He indicated he intended to follow that advice.
There are three things I want to come from my decision to make this statement.
First, women should be able to go about their professional lives and socialise without being subject to this sort of behaviour.
And I want it to stop.
Second, situations like mine should not be discussed in parliament for the sake of political point scoring.
And I want it to stop.
Third, I want to get on with my life.
I do not wish to make any further comment.
Image Source: Luke Foley Facebook Page