Former Melbourne lord mayor Robert Doyle was “sleazy” and sexually inappropriate to a woman at an awards ceremony in 2016, an investigation has found.
It vindicates previous claims by Kharla Williams that the then lord mayor touched her leg and made offensive remarks to her at the Melbourne Health awards ceremony.
A report released by the City of Melbourne on Monday found Doyle spoke to Williams in a “sleazy” and inappropriate way, put his hand on her lower back near her buttocks and repeatedly placed his hand on the upper part of the inside of her leg.
“There was no justification whatsoever for Mr Doyle’s behaviour [at the 25 June event],” the investigation by Ian Freckelton QC found.
“It was completely inappropriate and there was no contextual legitimacy for it.
“It was opportunistic and occurred in circumstances of significant power imbalance.”
The investigation goes on to say Doyle’s behaviour was “highly distressing and fundamentally inconsistent with the dignity of the office of the lord mayor”.
Doyle quit the post and his role as chairman of Melbourne Health after the allegations came to light.
An independent report previously upheld four misconduct claims against him.
The report concluded Doyle grabbed City of Melbourne councillor Tessa Sullivan when the pair were in a chauffeur-driven mayoral car.
He also put his hand on councillor Cathy Oke’s thigh several times in 2014, and attempted to kiss her in his office following a meeting in late 2016 or early 2017.
All incidents happened after Doyle had consumed “substantial amounts of red wine”.
The findings about Williams’s allegations were released, with her consent, after police announced Doyle would not face charges.
He did not participate in or respond to the City of Melbourne’s investigation but has consistently denied claims of sexual misconduct.
“He has had ample and fair opportunity to provide his account of events. Put another way, he has been extended full natural justice and procedural fairness,” the report said, adding its release was in the public interest.
Doyle told the Age, via his lawyers, that he was too unwell to take part in the inquiry, and would not be well enough for some time.