Seven Network presenter and former White Ribbon chairman Andrew O’Keefe was “not the aggressor” in an alleged domestic assault and will fight the charge against him, his lawyer says.
Police will allege the former Weekend Sunrise host assaulted his partner, haematologist Orly Lavee, at an apartment in Randwick in Sydney’s east on Sunday.
O’Keefe did not appear in Waverley Local Court on Thursday when a magistrate adjourned his case.
Outside court, his lawyer Claudette Chua said O’Keefe would fight the charge.
“I have had an opportunity to review the facts of the matter and I will say this: Mr O’Keefe was certainly not the aggressor in the situation and Dr Lavee will have a lot to answer for,” Ms Chua said.
Ms Chua said she sought an adjournment because O’Keefe had been “unable to give full instructions on such short notice”.
Police say the assault occurred between 11-11.30pm on January 30. O’Keefe was arrested on a nearby street about 3.30am.
He was taken to Maroubra police station and charged.
O’Keefe, a former lawyer and son of former NSW Supreme Court judge Barry O’Keefe, was a founding member of the domestic violence charity, the White Ribbon Foundation, where he served as chairman in 2017. The organisation went into liquidation in 2019.
He was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 2017 for his service to television and charity work.
White Ribbon relaunched in 2020 under new management. New executive director Brad Chilcott said the organisation was saddened to hear of the charge and that there was “never any excuse for violence or abuse”.
“Andrew O’Keefe has no role in this new chapter of White Ribbon Australia that has seen many changes to our approach and activities – including ending the ambassador program,” Mr Chilcott said.
“We stand in solidarity with every victim and survivor of men’s violence against women, and believe men who use violence must be held to account.”
Mr Chilcott added: “We are often asked what the first thing is that people can do to help end gendered violence. Our answer: Believe women.”
O’Keefe has been granted conditional bail. The case will next be heard on February 18.
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