Australian TV personality and star of Channel Nine‘s Burke’s Backyard, Don Burke, has been accused of sexual harassment, indecent assault and bullying of women during his time on the show.
A joint ABC and Fairfax Media investigation has uncovered the claims, which come from a number of women who worked with Burke in the late 1980s and 90s.
Two former TV researchers claim that Burke groped their breasts, while an actress claims Burke told her she would have to do an audition topless for his G-rated show.
One of the researchers claims that Burke once showed her a bestiality video, and alleges that he once put his hand down her top while they were working together in central Australia.
Burke has denied all the allegations, saying in a statement that they are “baseless”, “false” and “defamatory” claims from bitter ex-employees.
“The bitter irony is that I have had a life-long opposition to sexism and misogyny,” Burke said. “Burke’s Backyard was a lone bastion of anti-misogyny from its inception in 1987.”
Former Channel Nine boss David Leckie has reportedly said that complaints were made about Burke, but Channel Nine never paid anyone to be silent. He has also described Burke as a “dreadful piece of work”, while former Nine CEO Sam Chisholm has described Burke as a “grub” and a “disgrace”.
Don Burke’s full statement can be read at the ABC website.