Law student candidate shown ‘sex toy and porn’
PROMINENT Sydney barrister Charles Waterstreet has been accused of showing a young law student a sex toy, introducing her to a male porn star and asking about her father's genitals during a "job interview from hell".
University of Sydney second-year law student Sarah Knight, 27, made the allegations in a statutory declaration as part of a joint complaint to the NSW Bar Association by lobby group End Rape On Campus Australia.
The complaint, reported by lobby group founder Nina Funnell writing for the New Matilda website, includes allegations by three other women of sexually inappropriate conduct by Mr Waterstreet that first came to light last year.
Ms Knight - identified in previous reports only by the pseudonym Anita - said she attended Mr Waterstreet's Elizabeth St office on the evening of September 20, 2017, to interview for the position of personal assistant and paralegal.
"I was really shocked to get into the room and there were four other people who were not professionals in the room," Ms Knight said in a video interview. "I soon realised that I was almost there for his entertainment."
The statutory declaration claims one of the people in the room was a client who Mr Waterstreet identified as a porn star with "the biggest c**k in Australia".
Ms Knight said it began to seem "like there was no position available", with Mr Waterstreet repeatedly directing the conversation back to sex and pornography.
"Early into the interview, Mr Waterstreet picked up a sex toy, which was sitting in clear view on a shelf behind him," the statement says. "It was a black vibrating toy. He asked me if I knew what it was."
Ms Knight told New Matilda they "never spoke about basic things like what my responsibilities would be, when I would be expected to work, nothing like that was discussed despite the fact that I asked several times".
When she tried to ask about the role, Mr Waterstreet told her she "talks a lot".
At one point, the conversation turned to Ms Knight's LGBT activism and her father's gender reassignment surgery, which was referred to on her CV.
"Mr Waterstreet became very interested in this," she said.
"He proceeded to inform me on a very detailed level about how when women undergo gender reassignment surgery they have a permanent erection and told me every technical detail about this process.
"He then asked me about my (father's) genitals. I said I had supported my parent through the process and left it at that. Mr Waterstreet tried to get more details out of me."
Mr Waterstreet declined to comment on Ms Knight's claims when reached by phone this morning.
Her alleged experience is similar to that of 21-year-old University of Sydney law student Tina Huang, who last year claimed Mr Waterstreet showed her a video of himself being masturbated by two sex workers during a job interview.
Mr Waterstreet, high-profile defence lawyer of more than four decades and the inspiration for the hit ABC TV show Rake, vehemently denied any wrongdoing after that incident but was barred by the University of Sydney from posting jobs on its careers portal.
In March, he was slapped with a $420,000 unpaid tax bill by the District Court following a lengthy legal battle. At the time, he told the court he intended to file for bankruptcy.
The NSW Bar Association complaint is expected to be finalised later this year. President Arthur Moses SC said the law prevented the association from discussing specific complaints about any barrister.
"Sexual harassment is not condoned in any manner by the NSW Bar," he said in a statement. "It can result in disciplinary action, referrals to law enforcement agencies for criminal prosecution or penalties under anti-discrimination legislation.
"Every person has the right to work in an environment where they are safe and are not subject to unwelcome and/or inappropriate conduct. This includes persons who are being interviewed for positions with barristers or law firms.
"The future of the legal profession depends on it attracting the best and brightest law students to its ranks. It is no secret that the majority of law students are female who are consistently graduating at the top of their class.
"As a profession, we need to be consistently on guard to stamp out this conduct when it occurs, otherwise we will lose the best and brightest joining our ranks.
"The simple truth is that both law firms and the Bar need to ensure that they act swiftly and decisively when investigating these serious matters when they are reported.
"As President, I urge any victims of sexual harassment by members of the NSW Bar to make a complaint to the Office of the Legal Services Commissioner so that it can be investigated either by that office or referred to the NSW Bar Council for investigation.
"In appropriate cases, matters may also be reported to the NSW Police by the NSW Legal Services Commissioner or the NSW Bar Council. This has occurred in the past."