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Hollingworth Denies Rape Allegation

The Governor-General, Dr. Peter Hollingworth, has denied raping a woman in the 1960s.

Hollingworth released a public statement this afternoon. The statement was also released on video.

  • Listen to Hollingworth’s statement (5m)

Transcript of statement by Dr. Peter Hollingworth.



Earlier this year steps were taken to institute civil proceedings seeking financial payment by a woman who has subsequently and tragically died. As part of those proceedings, this woman alleged that I raped her in the 1960s, when she was 19 or 20 years of age.

I did not know this woman. I did not rape her. I did not sexually assault her. I deny absolutely that I have ever raped or in any way sexually assaulted any person.

The incident alleged against me is said to have happened during the course of a youth camp that it is claimed I organised and attended as camp counsellor and coordinator in late 1965 or early 1966. It is asserted that I was then a servant, agent or representative of the Anglican Diocese of Bendigo. It is further alleged that I had become acquainted with this woman at a Friday night youth group conducted by that Diocese at St John’s Church hall in North Bendigo.

I attach to this statement a copy of an extract from the Australian Anglican Directory, 2001. This provides a comprehensive listing of the positions I have held within the Anglican Church of Australia. As will be readily apparent, I have never held any position with the Diocese of Bendigo or at St John’s Church in North Bendigo. Further, at all relevant times, I was Chaplain of the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne (on weekdays) and Curate of St Silas’ Church, North Balwyn (on weekends).

Not only did I not hold any of the positions alleged by the woman in question, I did not know her. I never attended any meeting at St John’s Church hall in North Bendigo. I never organised a youth camp for the Diocese of Bendigo. I never attended a youth camp organised by that Diocese.

I can only assume that the claims against me must have been made as a result of mistaken identity.

Because these allegations date back 40 years, there is currently before the Supreme Court of Victoria an application for extension of time to enable these civil proceedings to be instituted. It is not known at this time whether that application will be pursued now that the woman has tragically died. If it is pursued, I will vigorously defend myself against the allegations made against me.

In the course of the Court proceedings to date, an order was sought by the woman, and made by the Court, suppressing her identity and details of the case that, if disclosed, might tend to identify her. Subsequently, the Court made similar orders suppressing my identity until her application for extension of time was decided. The making of those orders was not opposed by the parties. The orders I sought were fair and appropriate because, if the application for an extension of time failed, the allegations would have been made public but I would have been denied the opportunity to clear my name before the Court. In seeking those orders, I made it clear that I was doing so only until the proceedings had reached a stage at which I was at liberty to defend myself fully and in a public way.

At my request, the Supreme Court has today varied those suppression orders so that I am now able to put these matters before the public. I considered that this was now appropriate given the risk of inaccurate information being published in relation to and because of the orders.

As the woman’s application remains before the Court, and as there are still orders in force protecting her identity and the documents lodged on her behalf, I will not comment further on her claims.

Sexual assault and abuse of any kind is utterly abhorrent to me, and most especially where it is perpetrated against young persons by those in a position of trust.

I was deeply saddened to learn of the sufferings in this woman’s life and, more recently, of her tragic death. I extend my deepest condolences to her family.

8 May 2003

Contact: Martin Bonsey (02) 6283 3507 0418 625 241; Andrew Reynolds 0403 165 427

HOLLINGWORTH Peter John, AO 1988, OBE 1976; b 1935; BA 1958; DipSocStud Melb 1970; MA Melb 1980; Gelt ChStJ, ChSLJ; Hon LLD Monash 1986; Hon LLD Melb 1990; Hon D Griffith 1993; Hon Dr QUT 1994; Hon LLD (UCQ) 1995; HonD Uni SQ 1999; ThL Trinity ACT 1959; D 1960, P 1961 (Melb), Cons 1985 (Melb). C Melb Centre I St M NMelb 1960-64; Hon Chapl RCH 1961-64; Chapl BSL 1964-80; C NBalwyn 1964-66; PTO NY 1967; C Burwood 1967-70; PiC Fitzroy 1970-72; Assoc Dir (Soc Svces) BSL 1970-79; Exec Dir 1980-90; Can 1980-85; Bp IC 1985-90; Chair Div CC 1988-90; Chair SRC 1992-98.

Current: Dio Brisb: Abp Brisb 1990.
Address: GPO Box 421, Brisbane Qld 4001.
Tel: (07) 3268 2706 (h), (07) 3835 2222 (o)
Fax: (07) 3268 5636 (h), (07) 3832 5030 (o)
Spouse: Ann.

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