If you’re going to serve the Australian courts as a criminal barrister, professional standards dictate there are certain behaviours you shouldn’t engage in. Playing a video of yourself getting a hand job to a young university student applying for a job in your chambers, and then lying to The Sydney Morning Herald about it, is probably one of them. Nina Funnell and Chris Graham bring you the latest chapter in New Matilda’s ongoing investigation into ‘The Real Rake’.
A naked sex worker sits astride prominent Sydney lawyer Charles Waterstreet as a second sex worker kneels by her side. The cameraphone focuses on the two women’s faces and naked breasts, before panning down to reveal Mr Waterstreet’s penis being masturbated by one of the women.
It’s the video at the centre of allegations levelled at Mr Waterstreet by Sydney University law student, Tina Huang, who says the criminal barrister showed her the footage on August 21, just 20 minutes into a job interview for a paralegal position at his chambers.
Immediately after leaving the job interview, Ms Huang sent a Facebook message to a friend detailing the events of the interview, and the contents of the video. She has also since signed two statutory declarations, one of them specifically describing the video.
In a public statement published in the Sydney Morning Herald late last month, Mr Waterstreet disputed Ms Huang’s account of the incident, claiming any nude imagery she might have seen during her job interview and subsequent brief employment (Ms Huang lasted just a few hours in the job) was in the context of his professional duties as a criminal barrister and writer.
However, a whistleblower has now provided a copy of the masturbation video which matches the description given by Ms Huang in both her Facebook correspondence, and again in her original statutory declaration, made in late October.
Ms Huang has viewed the new video evidence in the presence of Marque Lawyers, which acts for New Matilda, and has signed a second sworn statement (November 10) positively identifying the video as the same footage she was shown by Mr Waterstreet during her job interview.
New Matilda has contacted one of the women in the footage, who confirmed that the video involves both herself and Mr Waterstreet. That woman has declined to comment further on the video except to state that the sexual act with Mr Waterstreet was consensual.
For privacy and legal reasons New Matilda is unable to publish the footage, although it has been confirmed the video was produced prior to Ms Huang’s job interview.
Ms Huang has said she felt sexually harassed when shown the video, and was dismayed by Mr Waterstreet’s column in the SMH denying it.
“Mr Waterstreet showed to me a video of himself receiving a handjob… and then implied via the SMH that such a video was a part of a case and therefore, I could not ‘stomach’ the graphic nature of criminal law,” Ms Huang said.
“[That video] is a video of himself receiving a handjob. It is not part of any case.
“I can ‘stomach’ the graphic nature of criminal law and I can stomach so much more. I can stomach going against the legal fraternity and The Sydney Morning Herald, the institutions of power and privilege that will protect [him].
“[I can stomach] time and time again, [coming]to my own defence and calling [Mr Waterstreet] out for the sexual harassment that [he is]guilty of.
“I always [suspected]and feared that there were other women out there and while no woman ever owes anyone her story, I am grateful that others have chosen to stand with me.
“Charles Waterstreet, I am not a liar and I am no longer afraid of you, because I am no longer alone.”
Other women also came forward as a result of Mr Waterstreet’s SMH article. Former staff member Genevieve Wilks alleged she was given a book containing a nude photo of Mr Waterstreet on her first day of work and that in the course of her 10 months of employment, she was constantly sexually harassed.
Ms Wilks says Mr Waterstreet showed her a drawing of his “beautiful penis” and emailed her suggesting they find each other on Tinder. She also routinely went without her full wages because her boss prioritised the payment of money owed to sex workers.
Another woman, Anita*, who was also interviewed for a paralegal position earlier this year, levelled similar allegations against Mr Waterstreet as Ms Huang, including that he showed her a “black double penetration sex device” as part of the interview process.
In a written statement in response to questions from New Matilda, President of the NSW Bar Association Arthur Moses SC said that tough sanctions are in place regarding misconduct in the legal profession.
“Findings of unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct can result in a number of sanctions including but not limited to an order that a barrister be struck off,” Mr Moses SC said.
“At the core of the disciplinary powers which the Bar Council exercises is the protection of the public in relation to improper conduct of barristers.”
Mr Waterstreet has ignored repeated requests for comment. However, he has responded through his personal Twitter account to previous allegations published by New Matilda, with a rambling four-page letter denying the allegations levelled against him.
New Matilda gave me till 9oclock tomorrow morning to answer questions concerned with their ridiculous ‘investigation’ here are my answers – pic.twitter.com/yJKE0PgPir
— Charles Waterstreet (@CCWaterstreet) October 30, 2017
Mr Waterstreet has also used his social media accounts to promote an article in Penthouse Magazine by commentator Bettina Arndt attacking Ms Huang as a “dippy dame” who is “revelling in her own 15 minutes of fame”.
The New Matilda investigation into Mr Waterstreet’s conduct is ongoing.
*Some names have been changed.
DO YOU HAVE INFORMATION TO SHARE? You can contact the authors of this article by email by clicking here for Nina Funnell, or here for Chris Graham. You can phone Nina on 0438 479 831 or Chris on 0407 555 328. Nina tweets here and Chris Facebooks here, and tweets here.
• If you or someone you know has been impacted by sexual assault or harassment support is available by calling 1800 424 017 and speaking to a qualified trauma counsellor at the NSW Rape Crisis Centre.