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The Geoffrey Rush Case: Feminists Stand With Eryn-Jean Norvill

In the aftermath of the highly publicised defamation case, we take a look at the responses from some of Australia’s better-known and lesser-known feminists.

By Lara Robertson

The Latest

In the aftermath of the highly publicised defamation case, we take a look at the responses from some of Australia’s better-known and lesser-known feminists.

By Lara Robertson

It’s one of the biggest Australian stories for women in 2019. Oscar-winning actor Geoffrey Rush was awarded an eye-watering $850,000 for general and aggravated damages in his defamation case against tabloid newspaper The Daily Telegraph on Thursday, and may receive millions more due to lost earnings in special damages. The highly-publicised case was brought to court after the Telegraph published two articles (and a poster) in 2017 alleging Rush had been accused of behaving inappropriately towards his female co-star, Eryn-Jean Norvill, during a 2015-16 Sydney Theatre Company production of King Lear.

Although Norvill never intended to publicly come forward with her allegations, she was dragged into the media spotlight after an informal complaint she made to the Sydney Theatre Company was leaked to the newspaper. The allegations were given further fuel when Orange Is The New Black actor Yael Stone appeared on ABC’s 7.30 in 2018, where she alleged Rush had behaved inappropriately towards her during a 2010 production of Diary of A Madman. Rush denied Stone’s allegations, calling them “incorrect and in some instances… taken completely out of context”.

Can we all please remember Norville never wanted her complaints to be made public. Her life & experiences have been taken out of her hands and used in ways she did not seek. And she has been blamed. This is all too familiar for women.

— Jane Caro (@JaneCaro) April 11, 2019

Just a reminder that the highest award of damages for a victim of sexual harassment including repeated physical conduct over 3 months in Australia was only $330,000 including economic loss with only $200,000 of that being for general damages and aggravated damages #GeoffreyRush

— Kamna मुद्दगौनी (@kamnamm) April 11, 2019

So lessons from #RushJudgement include 1. never speak positively to the media about a senior coworker because if you are later very reluctantly in court outlining how he harassed you then you’ll seem inconsistent. #GeoffreyRush

— Ginger Briggs (@GingerBriggs) April 11, 2019

Some snippets from the Geoffrey Rush ruling that are worth dwelling on. They argue that people involved with the case praising, spending time with or otherwise endorsing Rush as an actor, friend or person make it more difficult to accept allegations of inappropriate behaviour.

— Alex McKinnon (@mckinnon_a) April 11, 2019

Another absurd defamation judgement leaves precedent hopelessly stacked in favour of plaintiffs. Australia will never have a #metoo reckoning, and that is quite deliberate.

— Richard Cooke (@rgcooke) April 11, 2019

Bravo to Erin Jean Norvill – on a dispiriting day for female honesty in the face of power. I hope her career soars to great new heights, and that people in the industry have the courage to applaud her for speaking out, albeit reluctantly, and changing the culture #IStandWithEJ

— Nikki Gemmell (@NikkiGemmell) April 11, 2019

Because these dynamics are no more about the theatre than they are about celebrity. As demonstrated there is absolutely nothing to be gained by a woman attempting to address unwelcome and unacceptable sexualisation and touching in her workplace #IStandwithEJ

— Lyn Morgain (@MsLynM) April 11, 2019

When I was 21 I was sexually assaulted by a senior member of the Australian theatre industry. We had mutual friends. He told me he was going to support me in my career. He flirted. He ran his hand up my leg and whispered in my ear. He is older than my dad.

— Jane Howard (@noplain) April 11, 2019

Main Image Credit: Paul Braven/AAP