pursuing colleague

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A lawyer at Allens, the Australian firm which is in a global alliance with Linklaters, has been reported to the police and the Australian Human Rights Commission by a former friend for allegedly harassing her in 2015.

Timothy Leschke outed himself in April after Fiona Thatcher went public with her allegations earlier this year.

Thatcher said she became friends with Leschke, who was one year her senior, when she joined Allens' Brisbane office as a graduate lawyer in 2014.

In her AHRC complaint, she said that Leschke was on Allens' women's committee and told her he was a feminist, but then he sent her an unsolicited snapchat picture "of his crotch, taken from in front of his knees, showing him in his boxers".

She assumed it was sent by accident and said she was also unperturbed when he asked to crash on her couch one night and she spied a condom next to his toothbrush in his coat pocket.

But one evening when the pair were texting while he was at a client function and Thatcher was ill at home with her parents, "He sent me a garbled version of the word that resembled the word ‘fuck’", she said.

"I replied, '*fuck'... to which he responded, 'Is that what you want?'"

Thatcher said she was "extremely alarmed" by his message and texted her boyfriend, "Aaron are you still awake??? Something disturbing just happened". 

15 minutes later at around midnight a man matching Leschke's description buzzed her apartment bell, said Thatcher. "Eventually my mum, who does not usually swear, started swearing at the buzzer phone telling the person to 'fuck off'. The person downstairs at the security door just kept on pressing the buzzer over and over".

"The whole event was so traumatic for all of us we barely slept that night", said Thatcher.

The next day Leschke allegedly sent Thatcher another message repeating his last question to her: “Is it?”

Thatcher accused Allens of bungling its investigation into the matter and said she was subsequently performance managed out of the firm. "I was struggling a lot at this time and spent a lot of time crying in the firm toilets as a result of all the stress I had been experiencing from my ordeal and the environment in the office", she said. 

Hearing a few months later that Leschke had been awarded "a highly coveted and sought-after" secondment to the New York office of Linklaters "was a gut-punch" to Thatcher, who said it made clear to her that Leschke's punishment "was time-limited and of minimal impact".

In the course of reporting Leschke's conduct to the Law Society in March this year, Thatcher obtained a copy of Allens' file on the incident. She said she felt "physically ill" after reading the firm's conclusion which stated that her relationship with Leschke was "more than a conventional work colleague relationship, which could have led to blurred boundaries around what is considered acceptable" and that "they are close friends who have shared romantic feelings and thoughts with each other in the past”.

"Everything I thought I knew about Allens’ perception of the harassment was swept away", she said. 

Thatcher also said that as a result of the media attention, a current lawyer at Allens told her she had also been sexually abused by a different person at the firm. "I was horrified that I was not alone in experiencing trauma at Allens", said Thatcher.

Leschke said in April that he “deeply regretted” his conduct towards Thatcher and “unreservedly apologised” to her.

“No one should have to tolerate conduct of that nature. My actions were inexcusable and well below the standards expected of a decent human being”, he said.

Leschke said that he had sought to hold himself to a higher standard since. “It is possible for people to make bad mistakes, learn from them and change,” he said.

In a statement Allens said, “We deeply regret the distress experienced by the women impacted by the misconduct. No one should go through those experiences. We provided support to the women at the time, and we have conveyed to them that our offer of support stands”.

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Comments

Anonymous 28 May 21 09:04

It does sound as if they had moved beyond being colleagues to being friends. I think she should look to move on from this. In my view the firm were right in the approach they took in relation to him.

 

Anonymous 28 May 21 09:57

I say this as a woman. GET OVER IT. They had an outside-of-work, personal relationship, he sent her a couple of inappropriate texts and he drunkenly rang her doorbell one night. He apologised profusely after being made aware the conduct was very much unwanted. It all happened YEARS ago. This is nothing to even do with the firm. 

Anonymous 28 May 21 10:07

Oh, this gem again!

It's the 'Night Of The Living Dead' of drunken sexting stories, in which the monster repeatedly rises from the grave to eat the brains of the living, no matter how long ago it perished and how many bullets you put in it the first time.

Suspect that the Australian Human Rights Commission probably has more pressing things to attend to (see: Manaus) than listening to a bitter former girlfriend complain that her ex didn't get the Prometheus-level punishment that she hoped for, and that everyone else thinks that six years is quite a long time ago to be raking over some inebriated text messages.

Johnny Wadd 28 May 21 10:32

"she spied a condom next to his toothbrush in his coat pocket."

The chap knows where it's at.

Anonymous 28 May 21 10:56

@09:04

"It does sound as if they had moved beyond being colleagues to being friends."

So them being "friends" gives him free rein to turn up at her house uninvited and pester her on her doorsetp - after implying that she wants to "fuck"? Weird idea of friendship you've got there. 

Seems pretty damn clear that there was no romantic element whatsoever going on here, and this is just yet another example of the run-of-the-mill sexual harassment which happens day in, day out at law firms and which is constantly palmed off as nothing, and that everyone should just move on. 

Anonymous 28 May 21 11:13

@10.56 - when people are friends misunderstandings can happen. When men and women are friends it can lead to something else. It doesn't give him 'free rein' to do that but then nobody said it does and that's why he apologised. It not a weird idea of friendship at all, it just a reality that these things can happen between friends. Pointless to pretend otherwise.

There may well have been a romantic element here, and its certainly not 'sexual harassment' (nothing to do with work). It sounds as if you don’t really understand what constitutes 'sexual harassment' and that's why you believe it to be something much more common than it really is.

So yes, in this case she would be better to move on.

Anonymous 28 May 21 11:26

"Seems pretty damn clear that there was no romantic element whatsoever going on here"

Well, it does to everyone except those who actually investigated it and had access to the underlying documents and records (as the article above notes). But what do they know, eh?

Just like your good self, I for one have had more than enough of experts in this regard.

After all, what could their sober fact-based analysis possibly add to our hastily formed small-minded personal opinions?

Everyone knows that The Patriarchy did it. Hangings commence at noon.

Ian Robertson 28 May 21 11:35

It’s fairly ancient history.  He tried to get it on without undue pressure.  She wasn’t interested.  So he gave up.  
 

if this was a crime how many of us female and male would be in trouble especially in our 20s? 

Lord Lester 28 May 21 12:26

This fine upstanding chap has been cleared of all wrongdoing by the BSB.

Just like me.

Anonymous 28 May 21 12:52

@Ian Robertson - its not a crime, and the police should say so unequivocally. This is a waste of their time and taxpayer resources. Isn't there a time limit after the last alleged act in which 'harassment' must be reported.

Anonymous 28 May 21 15:54

Did similar before I was regulated.  

Wouldn't do it now.

She rebuffed me too. Shame. Understandable though.

Orders of magnitude? 28 May 21 15:59

Thatcher also said that as a result of the media attention, a current lawyer at Allens told her she had also been sexually abused by a different person at the firm. "I was horrified that I was not alone in experiencing trauma at Allens", said Thatcher.”

Stupid drunk mistake (not cool) vs sexual harassment vs sexual abuse.  There seems to be some “blurring of boundaries” regarding these categorisations in this story too.  Sexual harassment and sexual abuse are extremely serious and (un)fortunately this story doesn’t rate on that scale. If anything, seeking to make this story a serious one and equating this dimwit’s actions to “sexual abuse” is a serious miscategorisation and devalues real harassment and abuse.  

Anonymous 28 May 21 18:25

She probably made him fancy her.

Women can do that.

With their legs and hair.

You see it in the Daily Mail all the time.

How many women are putting on leggy displays or flaunting their bodies?

They do it every day.

It's news.

And since women have the power to make men do these things then men are blameless.

Sexual harassment doesn't really exist.  It's women making men want them.

Anonymous 28 May 21 22:52

@18.25 - although this case was nothing to do with sexual harassment.

And in the real world women have power over men as well as men having power over women and not everything is mens' fault.

Toby Greenlord, Still Frosty 30 May 21 21:33

Anonymous 28 May 21 22:52

@18.25 - although this case was nothing to do with sexual harassment.

And in the real world women have power over men as well as men having power over women and not everything is mens' fault.

I am struck dumb by this level of analysis.

 

I mean FFS dude.  Get a grip.  Why are you talking?

Pauliep 01 June 21 12:37

@ 28 May 10.07

Off topic, but Manaus is no longer a detention centre for asylum seekers. The PNG Supreme Court declared its use for that purpose contrary to the PNG Constitution in IIRC 2015 and its been closed since 2017. The Australian Government has paid out some A$70 million in compensation to detainees in PNG and Nauru. There are about 130 detainees still on Manaus and about 100 or so on Nauru. 

The quota accepted for resettlement by the USA of 1250 is almost filled. The simple solution would be for Australia to accept New Zealand's offer to resettle 150 asylum seekers per year as part of its  refugee policy. But Aussie PM Scott Morrison is not having it.  

By the way, ( and a message here to Priti Patel) off-shore detention cost Australia about £500,000 (yes, half a million pounds) per detainee per annum. (About 4,200 were detained but typically not more than about 1,500 at a time.)

Anonymous 02 June 21 15:09

29th @ 03.53am - I don't well know about you, but Lord Lester was completely cleared by the BSB.

Toby Greenlord, Nails Mate 02 June 21 19:59

https://64.media.tumblr.com/d3198ceeefc1057eae601cb3608b8f44/tumblr_n9ay4aMBeU1tds2vfo1_500.gif

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