4 April 2023

Law student fights allegations he raped student at ANU campus

| Albert McKnight
man walking to court

Alexander Matters is currently facing an ACT Supreme Court trial. Photo: Albert McKnight.

CONTENT WARNING: This article refers to an alleged sexual assault.

A law student is fighting allegations he raped another student at the Australian National University (ANU) campus.

It is alleged Alexander Matters started off having consensual sex with the woman in May 2021, but the then-19-year-old raped her by continuing to have sex with her after she told him to stop.

The woman’s interview with police was played to the jurors when his ACT Supreme Court trial started on Monday (3 April).

She told officers she felt “honour and conscience bound” to come forward with her allegations as she had seen media reports about Mr Matters being charged over the alleged sexual assault of a different woman.

Jurors heard the charge laid over the alleged assault of this different woman was ultimately dropped.

The woman alleged she had started having sex with Mr Matters in an ANU campus dorm room, but during it, she revoked her consent as she “didn’t feel comfortable with the interaction”.

“I felt extremely trapped and uncomfortable, and this was made worse by how rough he was,” she claimed, saying the alleged rape was “so painful”.

“He continued to keep going despite me saying ‘stop’.”

She claimed he told her, “You’ll enjoy it”, and “Keep going. It feels good to me”.

“I didn’t feel like a person after this interaction,” she said.

“I felt like I didn’t exist.”

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The woman and Mr Matters had consensual sex a few times, both before and after the alleged rape, which she was “not proud” of.

“I don’t know why I did it,” she said.

In Crown prosecutor Soraya Saikal-Skea’s opening submissions, she said she expected jurors would hear that at the time of the alleged incident, the woman had poor mental health and believed it had been her fault.

The prosecutor also said she expected an issue in the trial would be the woman’s conduct after the alleged incident.

The court heard the woman had sent Mr Matters sexualised voice messages the night after the alleged rape when she had been out drinking.

Also, when messaging each other about the sex, she told him, “It still hurt, you really went for it. Hurts to move, LOL”.

In other messages, she told him, “I think you were too rough”, and he replied, “Ahaha well I’m sorry about that”.

young and older man leaving court

Alexander Matters (left) leaves court with his barrister, Steven Whybrow. Photo: Albert McKnight.

When Mr Matters’ barrister Steven Whybrow gave his opening submissions, he said the pair had both been young at the time while the woman was a person who supported the #MeToo movement, survivors of sexual assault and had attended the March4Justice in March 2021.

He also said in September 2021 his client was charged over the allegations in relation to a different woman, but the charge was ultimately discontinued.

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He argued the only evidence of non-consensual sex between Mr Matters and the woman in this trial was what she claimed after she heard he had been charged over the now-dropped alleged offence against someone else.

“So he was charged, it makes the news, she goes to police and this is the case we have,” he said.

Mr Whybrow said the woman hadn’t sought medical attention after the alleged assault and didn’t report the alleged rape to police at the time. He also said she had told a friend the pair had had sex soon afterwards but didn’t say it was non-consensual sex.

Mr Matters has pleaded not guilty to charges of sexual intercourse without consent and committing an act of indecency.

The trial continues before Acting Justice Stephen Norrish.

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