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Vic: MP declares his innocence, vows to fight rape charge

By Edwina Scott
24 Dec 2008 6:08 PM

MELBOURNE, Dec 24 AAP - Senior Victorian MP Theo Theophanous has lashed out at police who charged him with rape on Monday, accusing them of ignoring vital evidence that proves his innocence.

Mr Theophanous, 60, also claimed his alleged victim could have an ulterior motive for accusing him, adding the woman had maintained a friendship with himself and his family for years after the alleged offence.

The long-serving member of the Victorian Upper House resigned from the ministry on Christmas Eve after being charged by police with the rape of a woman who now lives in Greece.

But the married father-of-four has ruled out resigning from the Victorian parliament, where he has sat since 1988.

"I do not intend to resign as a member of parliament as I am completely innocent of any wrongdoing," he told reporters in Melbourne on Wednesday.

Mr Theophanous stood aside from cabinet on October 13, after Victoria Police launched an investigation into an alleged rape of a woman at Parliament House in 1998.

He had held the portfolios of industry and trade, major projects and information and communications technology, which have been shared among other ministers pending the outcome of the investigation.

Mr Theophanous vehemently denied the charge that he raped the woman some 10 years ago.

"I categorically deny this allegation or that I acted in any way unlawfully," Mr Theophanous said.

In a stinging attack on the police handling of the investigation, Mr Theophanous said officers had ignored evidence, hadn't allowed him to respond to the specific allegations and had failed to give him a "fair go".

"We are particularly aggrieved that the police have charged me at a time when the investigation is, in our opinion, incomplete," he said.

Mr Theophanous said he provided an initial statement to police when first interviewed.

He said police had agreed, with himself and his lawyers, to allow him to respond to the allegations before any charges were laid.

But he had received no such opportunity, despite his lawyers sending three letters to the police seeking a follow up interview, he said.

"It did not include any responses from me through a second interview as well as critical evidence from Greece," he said.

Mr Theophanous said police so far had not sought a response from him to the specific allegations made by the woman.

"I and my family are devastated at being charged in such circumstances.

"It is easy for a desperate woman with nothing to lose and much to gain to make a false allegation from another country in such a vicious and public way."

Supporting her husband, Rita Theophanous said the alleged victim's claim was motivated by money.

"She knows she is after money and so do the people who are putting her up to this," she said.

Premier John Brumby accepted Theophanous' resignation from the ministry on Monday.

A special meeting of the parliamentary Labor Party is scheduled for next Monday to select a front bench replacement for Mr Theophanous.

Victorian Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu said the charge against Mr Theophanous was hugely damaging to the state government.

"What a bombshell announcement on Christmas Eve - a senior minister in the Victorian government charged with rape," Mr Baillieu told reporters.

"These are grave and serious charges and this is hugely damaging to the Victorian government and (premier) John Brumby must now explain the details of this announcement to all Victorians."