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Australia Eyebrows raised at magistrate's 40-year age gap proposal

15:19  10 october  2019
15:19  10 october  2019 Source:   9news.com.au

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They say love doesn't judge, but one magistrate and his much younger fiancée are facing the court of public opinion.

Magistrate Rodney Higgins, in his late 60s, met 23-year-old Ashleigh Petrie at work.

The legal clerk said it started off as a crush and now they're getting married, despite their 40-year age gap.

The love match has caused a stir in the courts too, with an email being sent out, warning staff of inappropriate relationships with judicial officers.

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Today, there have been reports that senior lawyers have raised concerns about whether Magistrate Higgins' approach to his work has been influenced by his fiancée's views

a man and a woman sitting at a table posing for the camera: Magistrate Rodney Higgins' engagement to Ashleigh Petrie has drawn attention. © A Current Affair Magistrate Rodney Higgins' engagement to Ashleigh Petrie has drawn attention.

A friend of Magistrate Higgins, lawyer John Verhoeven has rushed to his defense.

"I think what he does in his private life is his business, nothing to do with anyone else ... it's not the first time a judicial officer in any jurisdiction has been with their staff," he told Nine.

3AW radio commentator Justin Smith doesn't feel it's a big deal.

"I think couples talk about their work at home all the time, and I don't think it matters who you are," he told A Current Affair.

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a group of people posing for the camera: Many have defended the romance. © A Current Affair Many have defended the romance.

"I would imagine that the queen would come home and offload onto Phillip, over a gin and tonic most nights probably."

Relationship expert Katia Loisel believes Ashleigh may be attracted to the magistrate's experience, wisdom and knowledge.

"She's gotten to see him working first and experience the awe that is what he does," she said.

"He might love the fact that she's energetic and they're off in Fiji having a wonderful fabulous time, he's reliving his youth."

Katia Loisel smiling for the camera: Relationship expert Katia Loisel said couples with large age differences faced social disapproval. © A Current Affair Relationship expert Katia Loisel said couples with large age differences faced social disapproval.

Kate said studies have found couples with more than a 10-year gap in age experience social disapproval.

She said couples with large age gaps in general faced negative perceptions.

"And the research shows that a lot of people think that there's a bit of a sugar daddy situation or perhaps an imbalance of power where the older man is taking advantage of a much younger person because they've got the wealth, they've got the experience, they've got the status," Katia told A Current Affair.

Dirty cop guilty of regularly flashing neighbour .
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