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Sydney dentist Preethi Reddy's final hours, R Kelly angrily rejects sexual abuse allegations, & more in News in 5.

– With AAP

1. Police continue to piece together Sydney dentist Preethi Reddy’s final hours.


Police are continuing to piece together the final hours of Sydney dentist Preethi Reddy’s life before she was killed and stuffed in a suitcase in her own car.

The Penrith woman’s body was found in her VW Golf in a Kingsford lane about 9.30pm on Tuesday, almost three days after she was last seen.

She had been stabbed “numerous times”.

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Her former boyfriend, Tamworth dentist Harshwardhan Narde, 34, had hours earlier taken his own life in a fiery car crash on the New England Highway.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported the pair had been in an on-again, off-again long-distance relationship for several years, but last year Dr Reddy ended things.

It was an unequivocal decision, her friends said, and she had moved on with a new boyfriend.

In a statement released on behalf of Dr Reddy’s family, her sister Nithya said: “Words cannot capture the pain we are feeling with the passing of my beautiful big sister.

“Preethi was a bright light, loveable, kind, and protective of all whom were lucky enough to have been loved and cared for by her.

“Prior to this unthinkable event, she had been the happiest I’d ever seen her — she was living her best life.”

Dr Preethi Reddy.
Dr Preethi Reddy. Image: Facebook.

The statement added: "We ask that everyone keep that in mind that we are grieving and we need space to do that."

Investigators believe they know who killed Dr Reddy but are pleading for more information about her whereabouts before her death.

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"It's very important for us because, right now, we are working for Preethi and we are working for Preethi's family as well," Detective Superintendent Gavin Dengate said on Wednesday.

The gruesome discovery of Dr Reddy's body on Tuesday came just hours after police issued a public appeal to find the 32-year-old from Penrith.

Dr Reddy, 32, was reported missing on Sunday after she failed to return home following a dental convention at St Leonards over the weekend.

She was captured on CCTV inside a city McDonald's about 2.15am on Sunday and appeared to leave alone.

She last spoke with her family about 11 that morning, saying she planned to head home after having a late breakfast.

Dr Reddy's boyfriend, Sunny Vemula, posted a message to Facebook on Wednesday afternoon, mourning the loss of his partner.

Preethi Reddy and Sunny Vemula.

“I’ll see you again one day … and we’ll continue where we left off my angel," he wrote.

Dr Reddy worked at Glenbrook Dental Surgery in the lower Blue Mountains.

Her colleagues posted a tribute on Facebook on Wednesday, saying staff at the clinic were "in mourning" after hearing the news of her death.

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner or in Australia, contact Lifeline 13 11 14 for support or beyondblue at 1300 22 4636.

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2. "It's not fair": R Kelly denies sexual abuse charges in new interview.

Grammy-winning R&B singer R Kelly has denied sexual abuse charges against him and broke into tears while saying he was fighting for his life.

Kelly, 52, pleaded not guilty in February to charges that he sexually assaulted three teenage girls and a woman in alleged incidents dating back to 1998, weeks after a Lifetime television documentary levelled new accusations against him.

In his first interview since the indictment, CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King asked Kelly about allegations that he had sex with women under 18 and that he was physically and verbally abusive.

"Not true," the I Believe I Can Fly singer responded in a clip of the interview played on the CBS Evening News.

King, who spoke to Kelly in Chicago, his hometown, then asked if he had held anyone against his will.

"I don't need to. Why would I?" he said.

The singer grew angry and emotional as the interview went on, turning to make his argument directly to the camera. "That's stupid. Use your common sense," he said.

"Forget the blogs, forget how you feel about me," Kelly added.

"Hate me if you want to, love me if you want. But just use your common sense. How stupid would it be for me, with my crazy past."

Pounding his chest for emphasis, Kelly shouted, "I didn't do this stuff!" His voice cracked and he broke into tears.

Kelly, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, could face up to seven years in prison for each of the 10 counts if convicted.

3. Former student testifies against priest who forced him to strip nude for photos.

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A former student at a Brisbane Catholic school has testified a priest made him pull down his "budgie smugglers" to take lewd photos of him.

Another has told Brisbane District Court he stripped nude as Michael Ambrose Endicott took photos.

The two men have given evidence at 75-year-old Endicott's trial after he pleaded not guilty to eight historical charges of indecently dealing with children.

He is accused of groping a student at Villanova College and coercing him to strip nude for photos over a six-year period.

On Wednesday, one witness, who was a student in the mid-70s and cannot be named for legal reasons, told the court Endicott took him alone to the school tower when he was 10.

"I was asked by Father Endicott to take some photos of me while I was wearing my swimming costume," he said on Wednesday.

The witness, now 53, said he was asked to pull his bathers down as low as he could.

"I didn't actually expose my penis or testicles but just pulled them down as far as I could," he said.

"They were the standard green togs. I describe them as a green version of Tony Abbott's budgie smugglers.

"I do remember, I didn't have pubic hair at the time."

There was no nudity and Father Endicott didn't touch him, he said.

A second witness said he was 13 when Endicott took him up to the tower for a photography session which he believed was a "badge of honour" at the time.

He was initially fully clothed before Endicott asked him to remove his shirt, he said.

"He was saying things like, 'the light plays nicely off the back'," he said.

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"Then he asked me to remove my shorts. He took a few shots and asked me to remove my underwear."

The witness said he did.

"I was turned away from him. At no stage did I want to turn towards him," he said.

"After I don't remember how long - it wouldn't have been long - I said, 'I don't like doing this. I don't want to be here anymore'.

"I got my clothes back on and left."

Endicott was a priest in charge of pastoral care and religious education of children during the 1970s, the court has heard.

Prosecutors believe the abuse of the alleged victim began on a school hiking trip in 1975.

Endicott allegedly asked him to take off his clothes and pose for photographs after taking him to a secluded area along a creek.

Three years later, Endicott again coerced that boy to strip naked and pose for photographs after luring him into the school's flag tower.

Endicott is also accused of touching his genitals during an excursion.

The following year at a school sports afternoon, the priest took the boy, who was by then a teenager, into a change room and told him to strip naked, prosecutors allege.

The trial continues.

4. Author Anne Summers argues that misogyny is now a "hallmark of the Liberal Party".

Prominent author and feminist icon Anne Summers has argued misogyny is now a hallmark of the Liberal Party.

Dr Summers believes the Liberals harbour a hostility towards women, borne out in the party's poor female representation in federal parliament.

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"Misogyny is now the hallmark of the Liberal Party, it is a badge worn with pride and it is not going to be surrendered," she told the National Press Club on Wednesday.

Dr Summers challenged the common assertion the Liberal Party has a "women problem", arguing it was the other way round.

"Women have a problem with the Liberal Party."

Not only were women voters turning their backs on the party, but parliamentarians too.

"More and more women within the Liberal Party have decided that they will no longer put up with it, and they are voting with their feet," Dr Summers said.

"Women are sick to death being pushed over, being pushed aside and being pushed out."

At a separate international women's day event in Sydney, former Liberal deputy leader Julie Bishop said there was a renewed effort to get more women elected to parliament, by mentoring young women and changing attitudes.

"Sure, you can have quotas and targets and you can mandate equality, but at the end of the day it's about attitudes - it's about how people feel about gender equality," she said.

Ms Bishop, who is steering a new group called Emergent Women, said she was positive about the future given the strong interest in the group.

"Unless there is a pool of talented women to choose from, women don't put themselves forward in the same way as men," she said.

However, she lamented the fact that Australia had gone from 15th in the world in terms of female parliamentary representation in 1997 to 50th in the world today.

Liberal MPs Ann Sudmalis and Jane Prentice were both rolled in pre-selection contests and Julia Banks quit the party over bullying allegations, to sit as an independent.

Dr Summers, a former adviser to Labor prime minister Paul Keating, said the Liberals had continually expressed an "explicit contempt" for women.

"You would have to go back to 1993 to find a parliament with fewer Liberal Party women."

She said the contrast between the major parties could not be more stark - 46 per cent in the Labor caucus compared with 16 per cent in the coalition's lower house ranks.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters on Tuesday his party was "just getting on with it", in terms of getting more women into parliament.

He pointed to the 19 female members of the Liberals selected in either Senate or House seats since he became prime minister and a record seven female members of cabinet.

5. Woman wins $150k in damages for sexual harassment she endured at Melbourne factory.

A woman who was assaulted, called "baby" and subjected to sexual comments about her body during the 12 days she worked at a Melbourne factory, has won a $150,000 harassment claim.

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The woman worked at the family-owned Campbellfield steel product company in 2016, when she was sexually harassed by a male employee.

The man called her "sexy, honey, baby and sweetie", made sexual comments about her breasts, stared at her and at times approached her from behind and massaged her neck and shoulders.

He also commented on her bottom in front of other workers, remarking, "stay there, your ass looks better when you bend over like that".

The man was also part of a group of workers that discussed women, including her, and rated their looks out of 10.

But the most serious incident unfolded when the man drove the woman home from work after she became sick, at his supervisor's direction.

While in the car, he massaged her upper body and once inside her house, touched her breasts, tried to unfasten her bra, kissed her on the head and described her as being "vulnerable" and making him "horny", the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal heard.

The woman said she did not invite the behaviour and succumbed because she was too sick to resist. She later complained to the company, which told VCAT her claim was baseless.

However, VCAT vice president, Judge Marilyn Harbison, found the woman's evidence "extremely credible" and upheld her complaint.

She ordered the man and company jointly to pay her $130,000 for pain and suffering. The company was also ordered to pay her $20,000 for aggravated damages.

Judge Harbison said the woman was entitled to a "substantial" award, given she suffers from a long-term condition caused by the harassment.

She also said it was "alarming" the company failed to independently investigate the claims.

"I must send a clear message through this award of damages .... this type of behaviour is not acceptable at all in any workplace," she said.

The woman suffers post traumatic stress and says the incident caused her to become scared to leave home, distrustful of men and have suicidal thoughts.

"She is still a quite young woman with the rest of her life in front of her," the judge said.

"The medical diagnosis is that this condition which she suffers from is likely to be long-standing. She has been so badly affected by this incident, that she has resorted to dressing in an unfeminine way, utilising oversize dresses in order to disguise the fact that she is female. She is hyper vigilant, anxious and cannot concentrate."

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner or in Australia, contact Lifeline 13 11 14 for support or beyondblue at 1300 22 4636.

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