Downfall of Aussie war hero
He's Australia's most highly decorated soldier, has been named Father of the Year, received a Victoria Cross and campaigned against mental health and domestic violence.
Ben Roberts-Smith is not only one of the country's most recognised former soldiers, having been deployed to Afghanistan six times, but one of its most recognised public figures.
But now, rather than being recognised for this achievements, headlines featuring the 39-year-old's name tarnish the applauded veteran's much-respected image.
They centre around the mysterious "Person 17" who is fighting to have her identity kept a secret.
In doing so, she's revealed alleged text message exchanges between herself and the man she had an affair with in an effort to prove why she should stay anonymous because she fears for her and her family's safety.
The exchange came after an alleged domestic violence incident - among a sling of accusations levelled at the Channel 7 Queensland boss - in which the mistress claims she received a black eye.
Those accusations include claims put forward in a Fairfax article that the small SAS team Corporal Roberts-Smith helped lead mistreated unarmed Afghans, that he allegedly bashed an unarmed Afghan and that he bullied two junior soldiers in his patrol.
Mr Roberts-Smith denies the allegations and is suing Fairfax for defamation.
The case has thrust Mr Roberts-Smith back into the spotlight, seven years after he drew national attention when he was awarded the Victoria Cross - Australia's highest military honour - for bravery under fire in Afghanistan.
Mr Roberts-Smith claims a series of stories by the media organisation between June and August cast him as a war criminal, a "callous, inhumane" murderer and a domestic violence offender.
Person 17's allegations are among the latest statements from Fairfax, which is defending the defamation action.
In a 60-page statement to the Federal Court seen by news.com.au, the woman said she and Mr Roberts-Smith, both married, had an "intimate relationship" between October 13, 2017 and April 5, 2018.
On March 28 she alleges he punched her on the left side of her face during an argument following a dinner at Parliament House in Canberra.
"I have given the police photographic evidence of the black eye I suffered as a result of the assault and a series of Telegram messages from the day after the assault in which Ben is coaching me about how I should explain the black eye to my husband," she said in an affidavit filed to court.
In the messages Mr Roberts-Smith asks the woman if her head is OK.
Mr Roberts-Smith has said the woman fell down a flight of stairs while intoxicated.
The woman reportedly acknowledges falling down the stairs but claims the assault happened afterwards.
Person 17 detailed how Mr Roberts-Smith used multiple burner phones, and she saved him under assumed names or names of friends.
Going to great lengths to keep their affair a secret, she said they would both log into a Gmail account and left emails in draft for the other to read.
Mr Roberts-Smith's barrister has said Person 17's request to have her named suppressed is "unprecedented" given the gravity of the domestic violence allegations levelled at his client.
Person 17 has said the prospect of having her identity revealed is giving her panic attacks, and she is on prescription medication to help her sleep.
She has said very few people know of the affair.
"My grave fear is that if my name and identity is revealed, I will be subjected to harassment and vitriol by people who support Ben and think I am just a lying woman trying to bring down a war hero," she said.
There is no suggestion Mr Roberts-Smith poses an ongoing threat to the woman.
Her concerns centre on social media attacks, particularly from supporters of the war hero.
Mr Roberts-Smith this afternoon issued a strong denial, telling Sky News the domestic violence allegation would be proven untrue.
"I categorically deny that I assaulted a woman in a Canberra hotel room as alleged by Fairfax. This allegation will be demonstrated to be untrue when I am given the opportunity to test the allegation in a court hearing," he said.
"Fairfax has admitted on behalf of the woman making the allegation that she fell down a flight of stairs on the evening in question. It will be proven by CCTV footage and numerous witnesses, that the injuries the woman suffered were sustained in that fall."
Mr Roberts-Smith said the text messages included in Person 17's affidavit showed no evidence of him coaching her to lie about the injury.
"Any fair and reasonable analysis of those texts support the overwhelming evidence that the injuries the woman suffered were sustained in that fall. I simply told her to tell the truth of how she sustained the injuries," he said.
"It concerns me greatly that such an untested allegation is being publicly aired when it will be proven to be untrue."
Mr Roberts-Smith was appointed to the role of general manager of Seven's Queensland operations by Kerry Stokes after he quit the armed services and did a masters of business administration in 2016.
On Friday, Mr Stokes backed Mr Roberts-Smith, saying CCTV footage would clear him over the assault allegations.
In a statement provided to media, Mr Stokes said Mr Roberts-Smith was in an impossible position being forced to publicly defend his reputation while his accusers remained anonymous.
"The most recent allegations made against Ben Roberts-Smith have been thoroughly investigated by Police, who have not taken action based on very credible evidence including CCTV footage confirming Ben's account of how the woman concerned sustained injuries falling down stairs at a Parliamentary function,'' Mr Stokes said.
"The reporting concerning Ben's wartime service is very prejudicial as there is currently a Defence Inquiry into a broad range of matters concerning Australian forces action on duty overseas. No allegations have yet been put to Ben, let alone proven.
"His accusers get the benefit of anonymity but the attacks on him are reported in full with the hearing some time away."
Mr Stokes said Mr Roberts-Smith was entitled to a fair hearing and looked forward to defending the matters when the defamation case is heard.
"In fact, this rule of law and justice is precisely what Ben and his mates, and many before them, have fought for,'' he said.