Christian Porter and Kate, the alleged victim, at a formal debate team dinner, Sydney University, January 1988 (Image: Supplied)

Note: This story includes detailed description of sexual assault. Reader discretion is advised. It also discusses suicide.

The past two weeks have seen enormous pressure on Attorney-General Christian Porter following historic rape allegations. Porter strenuously denies the allegations.

The woman who made the allegations — who Crikey had previously refused to name — had her first name used on ABC’s Four Corners last night. Her name was Kate.

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Here’s how the story has unfolded to this point. 

  • July 1986: According to Kate, she first met Porter at the Australian School Students’ Debating Championship in Adelaide, in her home state of South Australia. Porter was representing the Western Australian team. 
  • July 1987: The pair met again in Perth for the same competition, where they danced, Kate alleges. She said she later met Porter again in Perth in September for the Plain English Speaking Competition national finals, and again later that year for another national finals, where they spent the day together. Kate wrote in her statement she is “fairly sure” she met Porter’s mother. The pair met again in Canberra in late December for debate team training, where Porter allegedly made derogatory comments about Kate’s body. 
  • January 1988: Kate attended the World Universities Debating Championship in Sydney with Porter, hosted by the University of Sydney Union. She stayed at the Women’s College. She said during this time she ironed Porter’s shirt and he called her “good wife material”. Kate said Porter boasted he would be prime minister by age 50
  • January 10, 1988: According to Kate’s allegations, Porter raped her in her room at the college after the pair had been partying with other friends in Kings Cross. She later said she believed she was drugged, and that he forced her to give oral sex before giving her a “shower or a bath” in a space she didn’t fit comfortably into. She alleged he washed her hair, shaved her legs and, after the pair fell asleep together, woke up to him anally raping her. She said he anally raped her twice, claiming he didn’t want to get her pregnant.
  • August 1988: Kate first mentioned a traumatic experience to a friend. The next year she told him it was a sexual assault, but didn’t reveal who it was.
  • February 1989: Kate began to write in diaries. She wrote that Porter “took what he wanted. Me. My virginity and my voice.” 
  • January 1991: Kate questioned in her diary whether she should tell the specifics of the alleged abuse to someone she was in a relationship with. “He hates Xtn [shorthand for “Christian”] already,” she wrote. In a later diary entry she wrote, “Xtian, Please do not take me, 88.”
  • September 1994: Kate last saw Porter in Perth, she claimed, for the annual Australian Historians Association at the University of Western Australia. They both had partners at the time. Kate alleges Porter said she “owed him one” and bragged about being the “oldest fresher on campus”, and was wearing a piece of plastic around his wrist, put there by his girlfriend to remind him not to kiss other women. She said that once back in a room she called her boyfriend, feeling as if she had “broken a spell” cast six and a half years earlier. 
  • 2013: Kate first spoke to a sexual assault counsellor about the alleged rape, who later said Kate named a fellow debater called “Christian”. 
  • December 2017: Then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull reprimands Porter for drunken behaviour in public with young women after the attorney-general had reportedly been seen kissing a young staffer in Canberra’s Public Bar. Porter was married at the time. 
  • 2019: Kate wrote a letter to Turnbull and spoke to Labor Senate leader Penny Wong about the allegations. Both referred her to NSW Police. Kate also reached out to many old friends, creating a Facebook group for support and to discuss the allegations. She also sought guidance from a Sydney-based psychologist and an Adelaide-based psychiatrist, and reached out for legal assistance from Marque Lawyers managing partner Michael Bradley. Kate’s parents were first made aware of the allegations at this time but reportedly did not believe them. 
  • November 2019: In an email seen by Crikey, Kate told friends she remembered noticing on the night of the alleged rape that Porter had “small strawberry moles, the size of freckles, on his torso”.
  • February 2020: Kate reported her allegations to NSW Police, speaking to authorities about four times. The police made plans to meet in person in Adelaide to formally take her statement, however the pandemic prevented them from travelling.  
  • June 24, 2020: After leaving a Melbourne-based psychiatric clinic and returning home to Adelaide, Kate called NSW Police. Later, she took her life. Friends of Kate told Crikey she did not recant her statement during this call. 
  • November 9, 2020: Four Corners revealed a history of sexism and inappropriate behaviour by Porter dating back to his time as a student at the University of Western Australia. Porter allegedly made sexualised comments about some female students whom he taught. Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said she had spoken to a young staffer who entered a consensual relationship with Porter and felt “caught” in the situation. 
  • February 26, 2021: A letter was sent to Prime Minister Scott Morrison by Kate’s friends, urging an investigation into the alleged rape. The letter detailed the allegations, named Porter and included the woman’s police statement. The Australian Federal Police were notified. The letter was also sent to Hanson-Young and Wong. 
  • March 1, 2021: Crikey, after receiving the statement and letter from Kate’s friends, detailed the allegations, noting an alleged pattern of predatory behaviour. Morrison said he was briefed on the letter but in a truly staggering lack of curiosity said he didn’t read it. He also said he spoke to Porter (who was yet to be publically named), who “absolutely rejected” the allegations. He and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said it was a matter for the police
  • March 3, 2021: After intense speculation, Porter named himself as the man at the centre of the allegations. He denied any sexual relationship with Kate and refused to step down or aside, calling for the “rule of law” (rather hypocritically, some observers found) and repeating his claims about the importance of protecting reputation and the need to avoid trial by media. Porter also said he hadn’t read the woman’s statement and would be taking a period of mental health leave. NSW Police formally closed its investigation due to insufficient evidence. The SA coroner ordered an investigation into Kate’s death. 
  • March 4, 2021: Kate’s friends called for an inquiry and expressed dismay at the Morrison government’s dismissive response. Kate’s parents’ said they would support an inquiry. 
  • March 5, 2021: Morrison dismissed calls for an inquiry into the allegation. Crikey raised questions around whether the woman had recovered her memories, calling for an independent inquiry.
  • March 8, 2021: Four Corners aired allegations against Porter, though no new claims were published.

Survivors of abuse can find support by calling Bravehearts at 1800 272 831 or the Blue Knot Foundation at 1300 657 380. The Kids Helpline is 1800 55 1800.

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault or violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au.

For anyone seeking help, Lifeline is on 13 11 14 and Beyond Blue is 1300 22 4636.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief
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