More women continue to come forward with their shocking claims about disgraced TV star Don Burke .
The Australian gardener and former host of the Nine Network's Burke's Backyard has been accused of indecent assault, bullying and sexual harassment by more than 50 people.
Now, some of his victims have exclusively spoken to Woman’s Day, painting a picture of an alleged predator whose secret life was anything but the rosy one portrayed on his TV show Burke's Backyard.
Erin was thrilled to win the prized role of editor on Burke's Backyard magazine - until Don crushed her dreams.
It didn’t take Erin Mayo long to figure out Don Burke was anything but the affable home gardener Aussies fell in love with during the 17 years Burke’s Backyard dominated Channel Nine.
“On one occasion, Don came into my office and out of the blue said, ‘I don’t know why you women get offended by rape. I mean, really, it’s the ultimate compliment.’ To say I was shocked was an understatement, but then he got off on shocking people.”
Erin, who was then 29, says what she endured was nothing short of “systematic bullying”, which eventually drove her to quit her “dream job” after being belittled and made to feel stupid for months.
Let me introduce myself. I am the woman who was pictured in shadows with a deep voice (not my own) on the ABC’s 7.30 investigation into Don Burke last week.
As much as I would like to tell you my name, I am still too scared to.
Having worked in the media for near on 30 years, I know what happens to women who “step out of line” or become “problematic” or are “not part of the team” in the eyes of almost always male management – they don’t work again. And I need to earn a living.
But I also am a woman who is fed up with the boys’ club attitude that prevails in the media and the sexual harassment that isn’t just commonplace but endemic within it.
I’m talking men who make lewd comments, who put their hands where they are not welcome and, in the case of Don Burke, are so disgusting, three decades later I not only recall every word he said to me but still feel sick to my stomach recalling them.
I watched the interview with Don on A Current Affair last week and was gobsmacked at his response to the allegations I, and numerous other women, made.
We were all either delusional, witch-hunting, disgruntled, following a “Twittersphere” trend or mentally fragile.
Of all Don Burke’s female victims, the woman who has been most betrayed by his actions is no doubt his gravely ill wife Marea.
Notoriously private, she’s said to be devastated by the revelations – and Don airing the couple’s dirty laundry by admitting to Tracy Grimshaw on A Current Affair that he’s had numerous affairs during their 51-year marriage.
Despite Tracy revealing Marea knew Don would admit to cheating on her and told her “they've sorted it out”, a source close to the couple told Woman’s Day that Marea is “reeling in horror” at the overwhelming number of women who’ve come forward.
Marea gave her first-ever interview in 2015 when she joined Don on ACA to discuss her ill-health, saying that in 2000 she was diagnosed with arteriovenous malformation (AVM) – a tangle of abnormal blood vessels on her brain – which required surgery and years of recovery.
Then in only to be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013 and undergoing a mastectomy.
“Marea can’t fathom the idea that this went on under her nose, especially as she ran CTC Productions, the company that produced Burke’s Backyard,” the source told us.
“It’s just too much for her to accept – not just for her but their children [son Sean and daughter Chris, who was executive producer on Burke’s Backyard]."
“So she is sticking by Don as usual. She has to. She is seriously ill and relies on Don as her carer. She couldn’t survive without him.”
For the full story, be sure to pick up a copy of Woman's Day magazine, on stands now!