Sporting clan’s power move after sister's abuse claims
The powerhouse legal team representing Christian Porter in his defamation battle against the ABC has been drafted in by the family of one of the nation's biggest sports stars in a separate case also involving allegations of historic sexual assault.
The Australian revealed NBA sensation Ben Simmons's half-brother, Sean Tribe, has commenced "urgent" proceedings against their sister, Olivia Simmons, after she took to social media at the weekend to accuse him of abusing her as a child in their family's Melbourne home.
Mr Tribe, who is among six Simmons siblings, has strenuously denied the allegations. It is understood he resorted to taking action only after his family made repeated attempts to reach out to his 29-year-old sister and address her accusations.
He has retained Sydney barrister Sue Chrysanthou SC and Barry Dean as his counsel, while leading reputation specialist Rebekah Giles, of Company Giles, is acting as his solicitor.
Ms Chrysanthou and Ms Giles are part of the crack legal team assembled by Mr Porter - along with Bret Walker SC - after he was accused of raping a woman, who is now deceased, in Sydney in 1988.
The former Attorney-General has vigorously rejected the claims and is suing the public broadcaster, which broke the story, claiming he has been subjected to a trial by media since it published the "false allegations ".
Like Mr Porter, Simmons's brother - and professional manager - is facing allegations of sexual assault relating to events that allegedly occurred more than a quarter of a century ago, with his sister claiming he began "molesting" her when she was three.
According to legal papers filed with the Federal Court on Tuesday, Ms Giles said Mr Tribe and Ms Simmons had enjoyed a "normal close sibling relationship" until about a month ago when Ms Simmons raised sex assault accusations against Mr Tribe to another family member.
The sexual assault allegations are said to relate to incidents Ms Simmons "recalled" after undergoing "suppressed memories therapy" five years ago.
Ms Giles said the Melbourne mother then posted the "sensational, accusatory and spiteful" allegations on social media, knowing her relationship to Simmons would give them national prominence.
"Olivia Simmons knew and intended that due to the Australian public interest in Ben Simmons and allegations of sexual misconduct, her allegations … would be republished throughout the Australian mass media in every state and territory," Ms Giles said.
Simmons is one of Australia's greatest sporting exports. Since becoming the No.1 NBA draft pick in 2016, the 24-year-old has cemented himself as a star player for the Philadelphia 76ers, where he commands a $38m salary.
The basketballer has strong ties with both siblings. He flew home to Melbourne to be by Ms Simmons's side in 2018 after her young daughter was diagnosed with a rare brain condition, while Mr Tribe moved to the US almost a decade ago to work with him.
In her application, Ms Giles said her client was seeking an urgent order restraining his sister from making further allegations against him, unless they formed part of an official statement to police or were for the purposes of seeking medical treatment.
Ms Simmons, who also played basketball in the US for the Arizona State Sun Devils, made her allegations against her brother public on Saturday in a series of posts uploaded to Twitter.
"I'm tired of this facade just 'cause my brother is famous. There's real-life shit going on and I'm going to never be afraid to speak up because money doesn't control me," she wrote.
"At the end of the day, I was molested by my half-brother for years from age three. I've been asking for therapy but my family would rather sweep it under the rug because it could damage my brother's brand … I was molested by my half-brother Sean Tribe.
"I have had PTSD since then. My sexual history started at eight because I didn't understand what sex even was because my brother did it to me."
Mr Tribe released a statement, said to be on behalf of the entire Simmons family, on Saturday night rejecting her accusations and claiming that she had been battling mental illness issues.
Ms Simmons denied she had fabricated the allegations in another flurry of tweets on Monday before deactivating her account.
"I am many things but a liar is not one of them,'' she wrote.
*For 24-hour domestic violence and sexual violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.
Originally published as Simmons clan's power move after abuse claims