The woman at the centre of the sexting scandal that prompted the resignation of former Australian Test cricket captain Tim Paine has filed a sexual harassment claim against Cricket Tasmania in Australia’s federal court.
Renee Ferguson, 47, says she complained about sexual harassment in the office prior to her decision to resign from her job. The prior complaint did not relate to Paine or his brother-in-law but another man in the office.
In a 17-page document filed in the Federal Court, lawyers acting for the woman have lodged an originating application under the Australian Human Rights Commission Act for sexual harassment.
It includes a claim that she previously raised a complaint of sexual harassment regarding another Cricket Tasmania employee with the human resources manager. This complaint did not relate to Paine.
She later resigned from her role at Cricket Tasmania after she was accused of stealing. She was charged in relation to that matter and will face the Tasmanian Magistrates Court in January.
Paine has previously admitted to sending texts to the woman – including a photograph of his penis – but stated it was consensual.
An investigation into the matter by Cricket Tasmania previously found the exchange of texts between the woman and Paine was consensual.
Lawyers for the woman said she was never interviewed.
The legal document outlines a range of sexualised banter that she was subjected to in her job, including being told, “Get on snap you mole”, a reference to Snapchat, in a conversation with Paine’s brother-in-law Shannon Tubb.
The texts emerged last week after the Herald Sun obtained correspondence between the woman and Tim Paine that occurred in late 2017.
The woman resigned from Cricket Tasmania in 2017.
She also claimed that Paine’s brother-in-law Tubb, who is married to his sister, allegedly wrote messages to her.
Earlier today, Paine announced he was taking a leave of absence from all forms of cricket for the “foreseeable future”.
The decision essentially rules him out of the Ashes and puts his international career in serious doubt.
Cricket Tasmania released a statement announcing the news on Friday morning and said it will “continue to support Tim and his family both professionally and personally over the summer”.
“Tim’s decision makes him unavailable for selection for today’s Marsh One-Day Cup match against Western Australia. His place in the squad will be taken by Charlie Wakim,” the statement read.
“Confirming that Tim Paine is stepping away from cricket for an indefinite mental health break. We are extremely concerned for his and Bonnie’s wellbeing and will be making no further comment at this time,” Paine’s manager, James Henderson, said.
Cricket Tasmania boss Dominic Baker told ABC radio in Hobart: “It’s a traumatic event for him … a week ago he was the Australian captain so these things take time. I think he’s done the right thing, he’s prioritising his welfare and the welfare of his family.”
Paine’s wife Bonnie spoke out last weekend about the scandal, saying she felt sorry her husband was being forced to relive a shameful moment that he deeply regrets.
“I have a bit of sympathy for Tim. A lot actually. He and I went through all of this privately in 2018,” she told the Sunday Herald Sun.
“It broke my heart to be honest,” Bonnie said.
“It’s sad that he felt he had to step down as captain over it, and I just think that’s unfair. I felt sad for him.
“My trust was a bit shattered from it and learning to try and trust again was a process. I had my doubts, and there were times where I wanted to leave, and there were times I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. It was very confusing. It did take a long time for us to be strong again, and for us to be in a good place, but we are now.”
Speaking last week about his decision to resign as captain, Paine said: “Although exonerated [by CA and CT investigations], I deeply regretted this incident at the time, and still do today. I spoke to my wife and family at the time and am enormously grateful for their forgiveness and support.
“We thought this incident was behind us and that I could focus entirely on the team, as I have done for the last three or four years. However, I recently became aware that this private text exchange was going to become public.
“On reflection, my actions in 2017 do not meet the standard of an Australian cricket captain, or the wider community. I’m deeply sorry for the hurt and pain that I have caused to my wife, my family, and to the other party.
“I’m sorry for any damage that this does to the reputation of our sport. And I believe that it is the right decision for me to stand down as captain, effective immediately. I do not want this to become an unwelcome disruption to the team ahead of what is a huge Ashes series.
“To Australian cricket fans — I’m deeply sorry that my past behaviour has impacted our game on the eve of the Ashes. For the disappointment I have caused to fans and the entire cricket community, I apologise.
“I’ve been blessed with a wonderful, loving and supportive family, and it breaks my heart to know how much I’ve let them down. They have always stood by me, been my most loyal fans, and I’m indebted to them for their support.
“I will remain a committed member of the Australian cricket team, and look forward with anticipation to what is a huge Ashes tour.”
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