Sydney lawyer and writer Charles Waterstreet, known best for being the inspiration behind TV’s Rake, has responded to allegations of sexual harassment from a University of Sydney student that were published in New Matilda this week.
Several articles were published on New Matilda around the account of USyd law student Tina Huang, who applied for a job as Waterstreet’s paralegal / personal assistant.
Huang alleges that during the interview, Watersteet “showed [her photos of naked women and a video of someone receiving a handjob,” and “talked about attending sex parties, having many girlfriends and enjoying threesomes”.
Huang says that she took the job, but resigned quickly after a day in which she was required to “answer emails for him about missed payments for sex toys, and organise dates with women”.
These claims were also made in a statutory declaration on October 23. NSW Police have made inquiries, but no formal investigation has been launched at this stage.
Snap protests took place at Sydney Uni, where students demanded an end to workplace sexual harassment and accountability for powerful perpetrators. The job which Huang applied for was advertised through the uni’s CareerHub website.
On Thursday, the university confirmed it removed the job listing from CareerHub, and “put a ban on any further advertising by Rake Chambers”.
The Sydney Morning Herald quotes Huang responding to the university’s move to delist Waterstreet’s ads from their service:
[I’m] proud of the University of Sydney … for standing with victims of sexual harassment and announcing that they will no longer publish Waterstreet’s ads on CareerHub. If this announcement protects even one student from harassment at the hands of Waterstreet, then make no mistake, everything we did today will have been worth it.
This morning, the SMH published a very lengthy reply from Waterstreet, who denies the allegations and provides his own account of Huang’s brief employment. As far as denials of sexual misconduct go, this one is pretty long and rambling for no particular reason at all. Much of it is written like one of his regular columns, which were once published in Fairfax and are now in Penthouse.
It’s difficult to dig through his florid prose to determine precisely what his defence is, but he generally returns to several points:
- He has a notorious “sense of humour” which some people appreciate and others do not. “Some find me funny, some find me boring, others couldn’t give a fig,” he says. Anything pertaining to group sex or drug use that Ms Huang alleges he said were jokes.
- He suggests that any materials Ms Huang was shown during her interview or employment pertain to a “case [which] is still before the courts”. He denies that the person in the alleged “video of someone receiving a hand job” is him – though this claim was not actually made in the final articles or the statutory declaration.
- He suggests that the window of time New Matilda gave to him to respond to the allegations in time for publication was too short.
- He argues that the account of Ms Huang’s departure from the company is not accurate, which he purports to disprove by quoting emails.
As yet, there has been no response from either Ms Huang or New Matilda. We’ll keep you posted.