A former Melbourne City councillor who accused Robert Doyle of sexual harassment says she does not know what the former Lord Mayor was apologising for in his tearful media appearances earlier this week.
Cathy Oke, who was found by an independent investigation to have been touched inappropriately by Mr Doyle, told Virginia Trioli on Radio Melbourne this morning that she didn’t know if the apology was for her.
“I believe he is sorry and obviously he is upset. I just don’t know what he is apologising for or what he is sorry for,” she said.
“There wasn’t any actual direct message to myself or anyone else, but also I haven’t received anything in writing.”
Doyle breaks silence
On Monday, Mr Doyle spoke publicly for the first time since his resignation, admitting his “reprehensible” behaviour was driven by self-importance and an inability to see how his behaviour impacted others.
“It was not to seek sympathy or forgiveness or anything like that. It was just to say a heartfelt ‘I’m sorry’,” he told Nine radio.
In 2018, Mr Doyle resigned as Lord Mayor of Melbourne after Ms Oke and another former councillor accused him of sleazy behaviour and sexual harassment.
He denied the allegations at the time and has not been charged with any offences.
A third woman, Kharla Williams, made a formal complaint about Mr Doyle’s behaviour at a 2016 awards ceremony dinner while he was chairman of Melbourne Health.
Ms Oke does not feel like his apology adequately acknowledged his self described “ugly” behaviour.
“What I heard was ‘I’m not going to go there, it is in the past, and it’s not for me to respond’,” she said.
“That is the point where I went, ‘I don’t think this is about me’, because if you don’t want to acknowledge that something happened that caused great distress then I don’t really know what this was about.”
Mr Doyle’s public appearances were triggering for Ms Oke.
She said she first heard Mr Doyle was going to speak publicly on Mother’s Day and she had “no control” over what was happening.
“For me that dis-empowerment is the trickiest thing, because I don’t want to be silenced, because women need to have a voice.”
Ms Oke said Mr Doyle’s prolonged silence had exacerbated her distress and she still wasn’t ready for forgiveness.
“It’s more about the way that it was dealt with, or not dealt with, is the bit that I find very difficult to let go of – as different to the necessarily the actual behaviour but that is not even being named or discussed,” she said.
“I was significantly traumatised and it has impacted me a lot.”