Yesterday, we reported that Don Burke hired a defamation lawyer after being accused of indecent assault and sexual harassment, but now the TV personality has spoken out about the shock claims.
Speaking to A Current Affair’s Tracy Grimshaw, Burke revealed he had 'no recollection' of explicit claims of predatory workplace harassment, but denied categorically he was guilty of the litany of lewd, lecherous misconduct charges leveled against him by a number of females who worked with him on his long-running show Burke’s Backyard.
'I’m not that man at all,' he said. 'I’ve got a lot of failings. Some of these things are despicable.'
The accusations, of course, came from women who worked on his gardening show in the 1980s and 1990s, following a joint investigation by Fairfax/ABC.
In the interview, Burke claims that while he cannot remember these alleged exchanges, he bizarrely claimed he had diagnosed himself as suffering from Asperger’s syndrome, which he believes left him to struggling to read social signals.
I am happy to say to the people of Australia: this is my story, make up your mind if I’m the most evil person that’s ever lived, that’s your decision,' Burke said.
'If you can forgive me for the stupidity and the other things I have done then I am very grateful, but I think that’s their decision not mine.
'I have looked in the mirror and there’s a lot I don’t like. But that’s up to the people of Australia to decide can they forgive me or not.'
Grimshaw told him that she'd been informed by a producer that Burke had claimed to be a “geneticist” and if he procreated with a young family member the child would have the 'perfect gene pool'.
The 70-year-old TV veteran responded: 'That’s ridiculous — for start, I’m an Asperger’s person and have a lot of other failings genetically. I would never say that, it is just disgusting.'
When asked by Grimshaw about his claimed condition, he confirmed that he had diagnosed himself because of his behaviour with other people: 'I miss all their body language and often the subtle signs that people give to you like ‘back off, that’s enough’.'
As a result of these bizarre claims, Autism Awareness Australia hit back.
Following his denial, ACA host and journalist Grimshaw has revealed she 'didn't expect the level of denial' she received from the TV star.
'I thought that he would be more accountable when I sat down with him,' she continued while on Channel 9's TODAY.
This article originally appeared on WHO.