A former executive threatened to sue Cricket Australia and bemoaned to police that sex offence allegations were “vindictive” and impacted his career, a court has been told.
On Christmas Day in 2020, Timothy Whittaker was arrested and interviewed over an allegation he had sexually touched a sleeping colleague after a staff party.
The following year another man came forward with a similar allegation dating back to January 2016, saying he had initially given Mr Whittaker the benefit of the doubt but questioned the events years later after hearing rumours.
Mr Whittaker has strongly denied the allegations and is fighting two charges in a contested hearing before the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court.
On Friday, the recording of his 2020 police interview was played to the court as Detective Leading Senior Constable Sonja Cameron said he had ignored a request for a second interview.
Tim Whittaker, who worked as Cricket Australia’s communications head, has pleaded not guilty. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Nicki Connolly
In the video, he denied the complainant‘s version of events that included him waking up in Mr Whittaker’s bed after passing out on his couch following a March 2019 end-of-year staff party.
It’s alleged he had pulled down the man’s pants and was “jerking” his penis.
“I wouldn’t do something like that ever,” he said.
“It’s not true and it makes me angry to hear that.”
He told police he woke up about 5.30am as the man left, texting him words to the effect of “are you OK”, saying he was concerned for his welfare.
“He rang me and sounded distraught. I said I couldn’t understand you and he hung up,” he said.
Police allege Mr Whittaker then sent the man several text messages saying: “You just can’t ring me and say that mate.
“Sorry but what the f–k, there’s no f–king way I was doing that dude.”
Mr Whittaker responded that while the phone call was incomprehensible, he could tell the man was “accusing me”.
He further told police he had hired a defamation lawyer and sent a letter to Cricket Australia after rumours of sexual misconduct got him “terminated” from later jobs at the International Cricket Council and Australia Post.
“I can‘t help but feel it’s vindictive and it’s following me … In terms of having an impact on my employment,” he said in 2020.
He stands accused of touching two men’s penises without consent in 2016 and 2019. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Nicki Connolly
The court was told a second Cricket Australia employee contacted the association’s human resources in December 2021 to detail an alleged incident from January 2016.
Former people and culture manager Louise Lee said the man told her he’d “heard Tim was in some trouble” and felt he should come forward.
“He said to me he had heard rumours of this happening to others … he wasn’t clear on the context,” she said.
The allegation was referred to police, with the court being told it was alleged Mr Whittaker groped the man, again in his bed, following a night of heavy drinking in Melbourne.
Mr Whittaker’s barrister, Dermott Dann KC, has flagged he will apply for the allegation to be thrown out on a no-case basis, saying from the man’s own account there’s no evidence Mr Whittaker was awake.
“He said he believed for years he was asleep,” Mr Dann said.
“His ultimate position is, because he’s heard a rumour, he’s changed his mind. The defect goes to a central element of the case.”
Mr Dann told the court that while the complainant’s version of events was disputed, even on his evidence the prosecution was unable to prove that Mr Whitaker was awake when the alleged offence occurred.
Under Victorian law, prosecutors must prove an accused person made a conscious, voluntary and deliberate decision to touch the complainant.
The hearing, before magistrate Timothy Gattuso, continues.