6 April 2023

Trial of student accused of rape at ANU hears claims of pain and lies

| Albert McKnight
man leaving court

Alexander Louis Christopher Matters, who is facing an ACT Supreme Court trial, leaves court on Wednesday. Photo: Albert McKnight.

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

Jurors in the trial for a man accused of raping a fellow student at the Australian National University have heard a prosecutor argue that the woman’s claims of being left in pain were consistent with her allegations, while the defence lawyer has accused the woman of lying.

Alexander Louis Christopher Matters started having consensual sex with the woman in an ANU campus dorm room in May 2021, his ACT Supreme Court trial heard when it began this week.

It is alleged the then-19-year-old law student raped her by continuing to have sex with her after she told him to stop. The woman claims the assault left her bleeding and in pain for several days.

The court heard she had been having sex with Mr Matters both before and after the incident, and her friends knew they had been sleeping together.

In September 2021, her friends messaged her after the media reported Mr Matters had been charged with the alleged sexual assault of a different woman – a charge that was ultimately dropped.

“The guy who got arrested for rape today, I slept with him,” the woman messaged her godmother.

“I don’t know what to do, I think I may have been raped too, I don’t know.”

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Under cross-examination, defence barrister Steven Whybrow asked her if she had gone to the police with her allegations because she was worried it could affect her profile if it became known that she’d had sex with someone who had been accused of sexual assault.

He suggested she had been “stressing out”, not because his client had sexually assaulted her, but because “this was going to look really bad for you”.

“I disagree with that,” the woman replied.

In re-examination, prosecutor Soraya Saikal-Skea asked why she had gone to the police.

“Because I knew what he did was wrong and I hadn’t told anyone,” the woman said.

“I just knew I had to come forward and do it because what he did wasn’t okay and it hurt me and traumatised me.”

When Ms Saikal-Skea gave her closing address on Wednesday (5 April), she argued the woman’s allegation that the alleged assault made her bleed was consistent with her claim of forceful sex.

The woman had sent messages to Mr Matters referencing the alleged pain the next day, such as, “I’m very sore, you suck” and, “hurts to move, LOL”.

Two days after the incident, she also messaged him to say, “I’m still so sore, what did you do to me” and, “I think you were too rough”.

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When Mr Whybrow began his closing address, he told jurors most of what the prosecutor had just said was “an excuse” to “find a way through all of [the woman’s] inconsistencies, all of her lies” to convict his client.

He said the day after the alleged rape, the woman sent Mr Matters sexualised voice messages which were inconsistent with what she told police.

He described the woman as young and immature and said it was clear from an early stage in her evidence that what she suggested was “totally untenable”.

Mr Whybrow also argued to jurors that the woman had “shown herself to be unreliable, unresponsive … and she lied to you”.

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

The closing address by the defence is expected to continue on Thursday (6 April).

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