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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”.