One of the Northern Territory's most powerful police officers raped a female colleague after a night out at a ball, a Darwin court has been told.
The Supreme Court jury trial began on Tuesday for former NT Police assistant commissioner Peter Bravos, 53, who has pleaded not guilty to two counts of rape.
NT Police commissioner Jamie Chalker and former parliamentary speaker Kezia Purick will be among more than 40 witnesses expected to appear at a four-week trial.
ACT Supreme Court Judge John Burns is presiding over the trial after there were difficulties in finding a local judge who was not connected to any of the witnesses among Darwin's legal community.
The alleged events occurred almost 16 years ago after a ball in Darwin for emergency services workers.
A group of police including Bravos and the alleged victim continued partying before they were refused entry to the Darwin casino because she appeared drunk.
She lived some distance away in a rural area and Bravos invited her back to his Darwin house to stay the night, where she found his wife and children not home as they had gone away, crown prosecutor Nick Papas QC told the court.
The pair continued drinking alcohol and swam in the pool but when "Bravos made advances towards her she rebuffed him", he said.
However, after she went to sleep alone in a spare room she says she later woke to find Bravos was naked next to her and using his fingers and later his penis to penetrate her.
Both the prosecution and defence agree on those facts but one side argues it was rape and the other that it was consensual sex.
"The criminal code in the Northern Territory states that when a person is asleep, unconscious or so affected by alcohol as to be incapable of freely agreeing ... they do not consent to sexual intercourse," Mr Papas said.
"We are going to have to prove the accused didn't have belief of consent as well."
He says the woman was highly distressed the following day, took the morning after pill and spoke to friends, colleagues and later a psychologist, who will all give evidence.
However, she did not make a formal complaint until 2017 after speaking to people about the incident again and being told about a "black book" that existed at the time in which she featured in which male police had "odds as to whether someone could sleep with her".
Defence lawyer John Lawrence SC said the evidence against Bravos was "based on a classic gossip, hearsay, tittle-tattle rumour mill" that developed over the intervening years since the incident.
He suggested the alleged victim might have been used as a pawn by senior police who had wanted to damage Bravos and become assistant commissioners themselves.
"You will see evidence laced with a very rich ingredient of ambition," he said.