Starkey was no predator, GSCC conduct hearing told

A social worker facing multiple allegations of harassment frequently overstepped sexual boundaries but was not a predator, a GSCC conduct committee was told.

Four women allege that Tom Starkey, a director of a children’s residential provider, continually asked them on dates, made sexually explicit comments and quizzed them about their personal lives while working with them between 1995 and 2005.

However, Nick Nenavich, co-director of Clifford House, where Starkey worked, told the hearing yesterday that he did not believe Starkey was a predator but could not see the impact of his behaviour. “I have often felt he has been unwell and in massive denial,” he said.

Nenavich added that the women, who made formal complaints against Starkey in 2005, had been frightened and fearful of reprisals.

Nenavich then hired independent social worker Joyce Brand to investigate the complaints. Her report upheld them and commented on the male culture operating in the organisation.

Brand told the hearing: “Mr Starkey remained convinced that what he said and did was not offensive,” adding that he had also been adamant that he was not a bully but had a forceful management style.

Staff, however, had described him as “hectoring and bullying”.

Starkey denies the allegations and says he had a relationship with one of the women making the claims.

The hearing, which began on Monday, continues.

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