I watched Leigh Sales’ interview of Alex Eggerking on 7:30 and came away wondering how a person’s life can be “destroyed” by a single act which many women, let’s be real, would regard as utterly banal.
Eggerking was sexually harrassed by former High Court Judge Dyson Heydon, and is one of three victims who won a fat stack of cash in a confidential settlement with the government.
She became Heydon’s associate in 2011 at the age of 23. Young and naive, she thought she’d hit the jackpot: A stellar legal career awaits, doors would open to her as the mentee of one of the nation’s top jurists.
But Heydon, aged 68 at the time, just wanted to fuck her.
On her third day, following drinks welcoming the new associates, she accepted an offer to join him for dinner. After dinner, she drove him home and accepted his offer to come inside. Finding herself in his bedroom, she refused his request to shut the door and instead left.
This “destroyed” her.
Now in 2022, having won her pot of gold, Eggerking had this to say: “Dyson, you ruined my career. You destroyed my love for the law. You destroyed my faith in legal institutions and the legal profession. You made me feel viscerally unsafe on my third day of working for you. You made me feel worthless. You treated me like I was an object that you could use when you wanted to with impunity. What I also want to say is that you didn’t get away with it.”
But he did get away with it.
Heydon, long since retired with honours, had the stellar legal career that Eggerking thought was her due. This sense of entitlement arose because (a) she was 23 and wanted it, and (b) she totally planned to milk Heydon for everything he was worth:
“I was thrilled, to be honest. I thought this is him offering to take a personal interest in me and become my mentor,” she recalls.
But then the penny dropped. Quid pro quo: “Sure baby, I’ll open doors for you. I’ll write you a glowing reference whether you’re any good or not! I’ll put you on a fucking rocketship to the stars, if you want. But get on the end of this, first.”
I’d love to go through Heydon’s back catalogue of good-looking female associates who, as the ABC article implies, endured his “pattern of behaviour”. How many, as a consequence, were fast-tracked to success as a result?
How many “closed the door”, I wonder.
There’s always been that smell about Heydon.
He can smell it too, but some people enjoy being vile. They revel in it. Especially if, associate after associate, year after year, he got away with it. What does Heydon AC care now, aged 79, that #MeToo finally broke the cone of silence?
Thousands of powerful women would have watched the interview with Eggerking. I wonder what they think. Does the bile rise in their throats at the memory of what they did to succeed? Are they sympathetic towards Eggerking, or contemptuous?
I suspect it’s fifty-fifty.
One of the lessons they don’t teach you in school is that sometimes you have to give head to get ahead. It’s rare that any mentor (let alone sponsor) will work for you, gratis. Self-interest is literally the defining characteristic of successful people, everywhere.
And for the record — I don’t condone this!
You may not like to hear it (and hopefully it’s changing), but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong. Literally ask anybody. Ask Julia Szlakowski, who also refused to shut the door. She got $500,000 compensation, but her harrasser Boe Pahari parachuted out of AMP with an exit payment of $50M.
Galling, isn’t it.
Happier times await if Eggerking chooses to follow Szlakowski’s example, however. Squeezing victimhood for every dollar is a totally legit side-hustle these days for those with a wealthy bête noire to blame for their failure.