Alleged assault victim by University of New England vice chancellor speaks out

A young girl who is the alleged victim of an attack by former University of New England vice-chancellor Brigid Heywood claims the incident has changed her life.

The 16-year-old girl, who can’t be identified for legal reasons, has alleged Heywood approached her at an International Women’s Day event at Armidale’s Ex Services Memorial Club in March, when the 65-year-old licked her finger and then wiped saliva on the girl’s face.

Heywood then allegedly made a comment about the color of the girl’s skin. She is of Indian descent.

Alleged assault victim by Brigid Heywood speaks to NBN News.
The 16-year-old and her parents spoke to NBN News about the alleged incident. (9News)

In a statement from the university, Heywood has “strenuously denied” the allegations.

The 16-year-old claims the alleged incident changed her life.

“I was pretty disturbed and disgusted,” the girl told NBN News.

“I truly was in a state of shock. I was really scared I didn’t know what happened.

“It definitely has changed a lot my perspective of the world and of people and of myself.

“It was a lot to process.”

“The University Council and Professor Heywood acknowledge the criminal charges laid against her on 1 August 2022, and the widespread attention and concern this has garnered within the University and the broader community,” Harris said.

“In this context, Professor Heywood formed the view that it was in the best interests of the University that she resign from her position and the University Council has accepted her decision.

“Given the charges are before the Court, the University Council does not intend to make any comment about the charges or their subject matter.

“The University Council wants to clearly state that it remains deeply committed to fostering a safe, inclusive and respectful environment for its students, staff and community at all times.”

University of New England's vice-chancellor Brigid Heywood
University of New England’s vice-chancellor Brigid Heywood voluntarily stood down from her position. (Rhett Wyman)

The girl’s father responded to Harris’ statement by questioning whether his family is considered part of the community.

“I mean seriously, for the community is my daughter not part of the community? Are we not part of the community?” he said.

Heywood is due to face court next month after being charged by police with common assault and offensive behaviour.