Queensland racing officer accused of sexual assault

Broadcaster Ray Hadley has revealed the identity of a harness racing official charged with sexual abuse offenses against two women.

Albion Park Harness Racing Club CEO Scott Steele has been committed to stand trial, charged with two counts of sexual assaults and one count of rape.

Police allege he sexually assaulted two women in separate incidents during April 2015 and December 2016.

Mr Steele was the general manager of Brisbane Racing Club at the time of the allegations, several years before he took up his current role with Albion Park Harness Racing Club in 2020.

Ray has been unable to name Mr Steele until now due to laws in Queensland that stipulate identities can’t be revealed until the accused is committed to stand trial.

“My information is [Racing Queensland] went to Albion Park and said, ‘You’ve got to stand this bloke down’,” Ray said.

“They said, ‘No, we can’t afford to because we’d have to re-employ someone else. You pay for the new person to come in and we’ll possibly stand him down’.”

Albion Park vice chairman Greg Mitchell told Ray in a statement the club board does not believe Mr Steele should be terminated, claiming employees are “comfortable” with Mr Steele’s continued employment (read the statement in full below).

“To suggest these women are happy enough to work with the alleged rapist, I mean, what else are they going to say?” Ray continued.

“Just disgraceful.”

Hear Ray Hadley’s comments in full

Read the full statement provided by Albion Park Racing Club vice chairman Greg Mitchell below:

“The Board believes the Albion Park Harness Racing Club should not terminate Mr Steele.

“The allegations refer to incidents that allegedly took place in previous work locations in 2015 and 2016.

“As soon as we heard of the charges the board commenced an independent external investigation by an experienced female lawyer. That lawyer interviewed Mr Steele and 19 of our 20 staff.

“The Chairman and directors had no say in the appointment of the investigator and no say in the findings. We did not see it before it was presented to us in its final form – it was completely independent.

“The Chair has recused himself of all discussion and decision-making in relation to this matter.

“In these ways the Board has ensured there is no conflicting interests, and that we have, and been seen to have, upheld best-practice in these difficult situations.

“Her investigation included the following findings:

  1. Employees are comfortable with Mr Steele’s continued employment. This will be influenced by the level of Club support for Mr Steele, and Mr Steele continuing to protest his innocence of him.
  2. There has been no significant change in the workplace attitudes to Mr Steele since employees were made aware of the nature of the charges.
  3. Mr Steele is considered a good CEO, is well-liked and respected by the employees interviewed. They spoke highly of his work and his contribution towards the Club and racing industry.

Its recommendations included the following:

  1. In terms of continued employment, the Club has taken reasonable steps to ensure that the employees feel comfortable and safe working with Mr Steele. It would be advisable to continue the current practice that forbids Mr Steele having one-on-one meetings with any females, or closed-door discussions.
  2. A sexual harassment policy should be implemented, and training conducted. All new employees should be inducted to the Club’s policy on sexual harassment, bullying and harassment, and discrimination. Evidence of participation in the induction process of each employee must be recorded.
  3. A complaint handling process should be implemented with employees encouraged to speak to either a board member appointed or a person with whom the employees are comfortable. Alternatively, the Club should consider an Employee Assistance Program.
  4. As the hearing into the charges against Mr Steele will take many months, the state of mind of employees should be regularly checked.
  5. The Club should take all reasonable steps to ensure it exercises its duty of care to all its employees.”

republished from 2GB Radio

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