The two victims were Peter Vickery's former associates
Maurice Blackburn has achieved a legal settlement for two victims of late Supreme Court judge Peter Vickery’s sexual harassment.
The two women were Vickery’s former associates who contacted Maurice Blackburn principal lawyer Josh Bornstein about the sexual harassment claims made in 2020, which Vickery denied. This prompted Bornstein to request another independent investigation by the Victorian Supreme Court.
The firm made multimillion-dollar claims to the state government with a request for mediation without the need to bring formal legal proceedings.
The investigation upheld the allegations, with the mediation process resolving both cases. However, the settlement sums are confidential.
“At the time they were sexually harassed, they were aged in their early 20s and the judge was in his 60s,” Bornstein said. “In addition to deploying sexualized poetry and unwelcome sexual advances, Mr. Vickery also put his hand between the thighs of one of the women and on another occasion kissed her on the lips.”
“It was a gross abuse of power by one of our state’s most senior judges against two young women who were just starting out on their legal careers,” Bornstein added. “The conduct of the judge had a profound, damaging impact on both women. One no longer works as a lawyer.”
According to Bornstein, the failure of the Supreme Court to properly investigate and respond to the first filed case of sexual harassment at that time had “increased the risk of recidivism by the judge.”
“The women are to be commended for their courage and tenacity in pursuing this matter against powerful individuals and institutions,” Bornstein said.
Vickery died from natural causes in April 2022 – two years after the sexual harassment claims first came to light and four years after he retired as judge for a decade.