Olivia Simmons unable to defend lawsuit over sex abuse claim against half-brother Sean Tribe, court hears

The sister of NBA star Ben Simmons cannot defend the sexual abuse allegations she made against her half-brother Sean Tribe due to her three-year-old daughter’s brain surgery and her own mental health, a court has heard.

Olivia Simmons was found by default to have defamed Mr Tribe and was, at least temporarily, banned from repeating her claim he sexually abused her as a child in the Federal Court on Tuesday.

Mr Tribe, who manages Philadelphia 76ers point guard Ben Simmons, sued his half-sister in April over three tweets making serious accusations against him to her large online following.

He categorically denies the allegations and released a statement in April claiming the entire family had been left “devastated” by Ms Simmons’ actions.

Olivia Simmons unable to defend lawsuit over sex abuse claim against half-brother Sean Tribe, court hears

Camera IconOlivia Simmons has been restrained from repeating sexual abuse allegations against half-brother Sean Tribe. Credit: Supplied

“We love her very much and our hearts break for her,” the statement said. “Still, we do not understand why she would fabricate these allegations.”

Default judgment was entered in Mr Tribe’s favour on Tuesday morning after Ms Simmons again failed to file a defence in the case.

The court heard she had received advice from her therapist to not continue in the case, and was also caring for her three-year-old daughter, who recently had surgery for a rare brain condition.

“At this time, she has to focus on her two children and take care of her own mental and physical health,” her former lawyer Sheila Kaur-Bains, who acted for Ms Simmons pro bono after she struggled to find representation, told the court.

Justice Michael Lee said he had extended “considerable sympathy” to Ms Simmons and gone “to great lengths to assist her” but there was no prospect she would engage in the proceedings if given more time.

Olivia Simmons unable to defend lawsuit over sex abuse claim against half-brother Sean Tribe, court hears

Camera IconThe sister of the NBA star Ben Simmons (right) was advised by a therapist to not continue in the case, the court heard. Credit: Supplied

“Needless to say, the allegations made were very serious and Mr Tribe was entitled to have his claim determined as soon as practicable,” the judge said.

He ordered judgment in Mr Tribe’s favour and put in place a temporary injunction banning Ms Simmons from publishing in any form the allegation Mr Tribe sexually molested her or that he is a liar for denying he did so.

The trial dates scheduled for September will now be used to determine if Ms Simmons owes Mr Tribe any damages and if the injunction should be made permanently.

The court is expected to hear evidence about Mr Tribe’s hurt feelings over the tweets, including from his fiancee and witnesses overseas and interstate.

Ms Simmons claims she recalled the alleged abuse in 2016 during “suppressed memories therapy”, according to Mr Tribe’s court documents.

He is seeking aggravated damages, claiming the tweets had a “sensational, accusatory and spiteful” tone.

He also alleges Ms Simmons knew their half-brother’s status as a famous basketball player meant her tweets would be repeated in news publications around the world.

“Olivia Simmons intended that the tweets would irrevocably damage Tribe’s personal and professional reputation and (in) particular his professional career and relationship with Ben Simmons,” the documents state.

After a difficult season in the NBA Ben Simmons elected not to join the Boomers at the Tokyo Olympics, saying he would spend the off-season working on developing his skills.

The matter returns to court in September.

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