Nine Network tycoon Kerry Packer reportedly called Don Burke and demanded he behave himself after Olympian Susan O’Neill complained about the former TV star.
The late billionaire media mogul made a telephone call to Burke in 2000 when he discovered the champion swimmer had made a formal complaint about the Burke’s Backyard host, the Daily Telegraph reports.
The revelation comes a day after O’Neill, an eight-time Olympic medallist, claimed Burke compared her vagina to a prized painting of a flower by her husband, which was hanging on her wall.
‘Is your c**t as big as that?’ the former TV host allegedly asked her as she stood in front of the painting in her Brisbane home.
Swimming legend Susie O’Neill is the latest woman to accuse Don Burke of sexual harassment after dozens of women made shocking allegations
The late Nine Network tycoon Kerry Packer called Don Burke after receiving a complaint about his alleged behaviour from Olympian Susie O’Neill
‘It was crude and it was belittling,’ O’Neill told the Sydney Morning Herald as she joined former colleagues and aspiring actresses in calling out the TV icon.
The alleged incident happened when the 44-year-old let Burke and two male crew members inside to film her ahead of the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
A former crew member of the program, which ran for 17 years until it was axed in 2004, confirmed O’Neill’s version of events to the Sydney Morning Herald.
The swimming star’s then-manager Nick Cummins said she was ‘intimidated by the crude sexual innuendo’.
Mr Cummins, now head of Cricket Tasmania, said Burke was ‘convincing’ in his denials when he called him straight after.
She claims Burke (pictured on Burke’s Backyard) asked ‘is your c**t as big as that’ in comparison to painting of a flower hanging in her Brisbane home
Olympian Susie O’Neill has gone public to allege Don Burke made explicit comments to her
The revelation that Mr Packer called Burke about his alleged conduct potentially leaves the Nine Network open to a class action, if it can be proven in court the television station had known about Burke’s behaviour.
However, Nine Entertainment Corporation chief executive Hugh Marks insists the TV network did not have a culture of bullying and harassment.
‘I’m sure there were problems 20 years ago, I’m sure there are things that will come out in the public that will talk to those problems,’ he said in a statement.
‘But from where I sit right now, I feel like we’ve got an excellent culture that supports equality.’
Another new allegation has also come from Amanda Pepe, who met Burke in 1987 when she was a 20-year-old reporter in Broken Hill, in outback western New South Wales.
O’Neill (centre), who won eight Olympic medals swimming for Australia, joins former Burke colleagues and aspiring actresses in calling out the TV icon
The alleged incident happened when the 44-year-old let Burke and two male crew members inside to film her ahead of the 2000 Olympics
Ms Pepe claims Burke promised to line her up with a great job at the Nine Network in Sydney and make her a star.
But when Burke picked her up from the airport with a rose lying on the front seat of his car, she claims she realised there was no job, just ‘a desperate attempt to get me to sleep with him’.
‘I was an idiot, I believed him,’ she recalled, and used all her savings to fly to Sydney to take up the job.
She claims Burke took her to a ‘sad’ hotel room where she allegedly had to physically push him off her, before she claims he angrily left saying she could stay there overnight but then she was ‘on her own’.
‘I have been weeping today for what was taken from me as a young woman and for the shame of not speaking out and perhaps preventing this dreadful experience for other young women,’ she said.
Burke earlier appeared on A Current Affair to deny the numerous accusations against him
Burke strenuously denied all the allegations and described his accusers as ‘malcontents’ who ‘bear grudges against me’
The latest allegations are among many made by dozens of women accusing Burke of sexual harassment, indecent assault and making lewd comments.
The claims include grabbing women’s breasts and poking one woman’s bottom, and telling an aspiring actress she could audition if she showed up topless.
He also allegedly tried to take off her bra and top on bus and made her watch a video of a woman having sex with a donkey.
A former crew member also claimed Burke bragged about touching a teenage girl’s nipple three times while showing her how to hold a puppy.
Burke strenuously denied all the allegations and described his accusers as ‘malcontents’ who ‘bear grudges against me’.