GSCC conduct committee: Man exposed erection in office

A fourth woman, who claimed she was harassed for 10 years by her former boss, told a conduct committee that he showed her his erection while sat at his desk.

Victoria Preece, who along with three former colleagues alleges Tom Starkey harassed her between 1995 and 2005, told the GSCC committee yesterday that he also talked about sexual fantasies he had about her.

His harassment began just months after they began working together in July 1995, Preece told the committee.

Starkey promised to help Preece, a referrals manager within children’s provider Clifford House, develop her career. He also commented on what she was wearing and regularly told her she “brightened up his day”.

Hotel room
By early 1996, Starkey, who is a director with the company, allegedly stepped up his behaviour, telling Preece he was unhappy with his wife and was in love with her.

He often said he wanted to take her for meals. Preece told the committee she felt browbeaten and eventually agreed, hoping it would stop his behaviour.

But after dinner he told her he could not drive because he had had alcohol and they stayed in a hotel room he had booked.

“I did not sleep and he stayed in the chair,” Preece said.

Kenny Rogers concert
On another occasion Starkey booked just one hotel room when he and Preece had to stay overnight at a conference in York but submitted expenses claims for two rooms. Preece claimed he told her not to “make a fuss”. He again stayed in a chair.

In November 1996, Starkey bought tickets for a Kenny Rogers concert and Preece agreed to go with him. But by the following January she told Starkey to leave her alone.

Initially he “got the message” but later resumed his pursuit, said Preece. Starkey, however, claims they were in a relationship.

Ripping tights
He has countered her allegations that he forced his way into her hotel during a staff Christmas party in 2002, kissed her, grabbed her breasts and put his hand up her dress ripping her tights as having taken place within a consensual relationship.

Preece, who like former colleagues Stephanie Rowles and Deborah Price gave evidence from behind a screen, has repeatedly denied they had a sexual relationship. Preece left Clifford House in October 2007.

In her evidence earlier this week, Deborah Price, one of four women claiming sexual harrassment, said Starkey would look down on her from a balcony and urge on others with the words: “It’s a lovely view from up here, boys.”

Sexual banter
A male colleague of Starkey told the committee yesterday he had never heard him comment on women’s breasts.John Brierley said he had also never witnessed Tom Starkey encouraging other male managers to do so.

Brierley said there was sexual banter in the office but said it had not been “excessive” but the same as in any other workplace. He said that with “hindsight”, the organisation should have dealt better with the complaints by the women.

Starkey, a former member of the Children’s Workforce Development Council, denies the allegations and says he had a relationship with Preece.

The hearing, which began on Monday, continues.

Related articles

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Woman barricaded herself in hotel room to escape colleague

Woman breaks down at GSCC conduct hearing

Conduct hearing told of graphic accounts of sex by manager

Tom Starkey accused by four women of sexual harassment



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