A social worker who made sexually explicit comments to female colleagues and persistently asked them on dates has been suspended from the social care register for two years.
A General Social Care Council conduct committee has also recommended that Tom Starkey seek professional help for his inability to respect professional boundaries in relation to female members of staff.
Starkey had admitted behaving inappropriately towards women he worked with between 1995 and 2005 but denied sexual harassment.
In its written decision, published today, the committee said Starkey, a director of children’s and adults’ provider Clifford House and a former board member of the Children’s Workforce Development Council, had abused the trust placed in him by junior staff and did not appear to show genuine regret for his behaviour.
Last week Starkey told the committee he had had a relationship with one of the women, Victoria Preece, but she denied an affair and claimed he had tricked her into overnight hotel stays. The committee said it was more likely than not that a personal and sexual relationship had existed between the beginning of 1996 and the middle of 1997.
However, it added that Starkey had continued to make sexually explicit comments to her after the relationship had ended.
Preece said Starkey had showed her his erection while sat at his desk and forced his way into her hotel room, kissed her and put his hand up her dress, ripping her tights
at a Christmas party in 2002, allegations the conduct found unproven.
They also decided that he had not made sexually explicit comments to another of the women Debbie Price or prevented her from leaving his office.
In her evidence to the committee last year, Price claimed that Starkey had boasted that his money, status and sexual prowess made him irresistible to women. But Starkey denied he had done that, saying you would have to be “the biggest nerd” to behave in this way.
In reaching its decision and applying the suspension, the committee said it had taken into account Starkey’s long record of good service and partial admissions of some of the facts.
Tom Starkey denies allegations were salacious