Sharon Whitehead v. Michael Moon. A Cautionary Tale

By 6 December, 2013 37

The Supreme Court via Master Harper has delivered the saddest judgment it’s ever been my displeasure to encounter.

It’s a tale of public service sexual misadventure. There’s career death, attempted suicide, and in the end Michael Moon is up for a life crippling $668,856 (plus costs to come).

Considering his fragile accuser was unwilling or unable to make a criminal charge against him the lesson appears to be to take wrongdoers to the civil courts.

This is a profoundly sad case. And it appears certain there has been bad behaviour. I leave it to readers to make their own judgments.

I will, however, ask commenters to be extremely guarded in their remarks.

Regardless of the rights or wrongs, amorous men are well advised to be very cautious as a result of this when approaching vulnerable women.

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37 Responses to Sharon Whitehead v. Michael Moon. A Cautionary Tale
#1
Queen_of_the_Bun7:49 am, 06 Dec 13

How very sad for both parties. The plaintiff’s resignation to what was happening to her really struck a chord. Plus the defendant’s claim of the 69er. I really don’t think a 38yo virgin is going to be great at going down.

But still, very sorry for the defendant who will no doubt be bankrupted by this judgment.

Also very sorry for the wife he was divorcing and the new gf he was living with during this whole sorry episode.

And Johnboy, you have made me late for work by encouraging me to read that in full.

#2
Queen_of_the_Bun8:14 am, 06 Dec 13

Shouldn’t you redact the names as this involves sexual assault and vulnerable people?

#3
johnboy9:17 am, 06 Dec 13

Considering the court, in its wisdom, has left the names on, and the plaintiff has chosen civil action, on balance, and I thought long and hard about this, leaving the names on seemed the right thing to do.

I’d dearly love to ignore this issue and not play host to the cretins who are going to come out of the wood work.

But there are very important issues that need to be digested.

#4
maxblues10:14 am, 06 Dec 13

johnboy said :

Considering the court, in its wisdom, has left the names on, and the plaintiff has chosen civil action, on balance, and I thought long and hard about this, leaving the names on seemed the right thing to do.

I’d dearly love to ignore this issue and not play host to the cretins who are going to come out of the wood work.

But there are very important issues that need to be digested.

Certainly a lot of detail issued by the court…do we really need to know if there was sugar in the coffee? A sad case indeed, it sounds as though both were as confused as us dear readers. They both seem to come from very different backgrounds, she being a shy retiring type and him spending 20 years in the military, which has never been the place for shy retiring types. I am not going to defend or condemn either party, but I am sure I won’t be the only person reading this who thinks that they themselves may have dodged a few bullets. I am not proud of the fact that during my time in the military we started the sexual ‘indoctrination’ of female soldiers on their first night out of WRAAC school. The young ladies were encouraged to attend the boozer and were then treated to ‘the dance of the flaming arseholes’ involving an enthusiastic naked soldier leaping from table to table with a long piece of toilet paper stuffed in his backside and set alight. At the time it seemed hilarious but in hindsight it was indoctrination, something the Army taught us well.

#5
Roundhead8910:15 am, 06 Dec 13

It appears Michael has been Mooned by the justice system.

#6
gentoopenguin11:10 am, 06 Dec 13

I don’t understand how she left one department and joined another and he was her direct supervisor?? The whole story sounds a little strange.

#7
chewy1411:21 am, 06 Dec 13

Wow, reading that is just, wow.

Men, be extremely careful about obtaining not just consent but enthusiastic consent. Not talking or not saying no is not the same as saying yes. Each time, every time.

Women, be forceful and vocal with men if you’re not interested. Small signs, big signs, blaring signs are open to misreading.

#8
farnarkler12:20 pm, 06 Dec 13

A baseball bat under the desk at work? If I worked with anyone who kept a baseball bat anywhere in the office I’d be having a word with HR!! As for the sex, well, maybe it’s time people kept a sexual conduct contract with them so both parties can sign it!!

#9
liability1:26 pm, 06 Dec 13

According to LinkedIn the defendant is currently a “Project Director at Optus” here in Canberra. I suspect that this judgement might be a career limiting move for him.

#10
gungsuperstar2:20 pm, 06 Dec 13

You’re all missing the point. The issue isn’t about his enthusiasm or her inexperience.

The issue is the plan stupidity of becoming involved, or attempting to become involved with anyone over whom you have power… in reading that case, Sydney never happens if the defendant doesn’t use his power over the plaintiff to coerce her into the quasi-relationship that they shared.

I hate this notion that this is about making really, really sure that she says yes – it’s not, and it’s victim-blaming bull****that makes me really angry. The only reason the defendant was possibly unsure isn’t because of her psychological state, it’s because of the bizarre power balance of the relationship where he though he could do whatever he wanted and that he would get away with it.

Why shouldn’t she take it through the civil court? Her prerogative wasn’t to have him jailed – it was to recoup the money that she’d lost as a result of his actions.

#11
neanderthalsis3:03 pm, 06 Dec 13

A difficult one. It seems to me (taking the balance of evidence from both) as if she was a relatively willing participant or at least not unwilling, but came to regret it afterwards. He may have been too much of a douche, she may have been too unstable, hard to tell. The fact that a civil compo claim was made instead of pursuing criminal charges makes me ponder her motives.

#12
harvyk13:10 pm, 06 Dec 13

I won’t say too much because I believe I might know one of them, but from what I gather, the executive summary could be put down to

1. He wanted her, she didn’t want him
2. He pursued her, she rejected his advances, but he did not pick up on the subtle signs
3. Whilst she did often say no to his suggestions (eg go into a sex shop), she would often give in to his suggestions after he nagged her.
4. On the night of the event, she initially said no, but then changed to been silent. This silence was interpreted as a yes by him.

Is this roughly what happened? (I only skim read the judgement)

#13
troll-sniffer3:47 pm, 06 Dec 13

A pretty cut and dried case of a man unable to filter a series of highly contradictory signals from a woman clearly out of her depth in the situation she found herself in. As the manager the onus was on him to act responsibly, he failed in that duty of care.

It does bring to light the dangers of assuming that the absence of a forceful NO is evidence of a maybe. I can see how the previous sessions could well have convinced Mr Moon that the object of his affections was a willing participant once she had been coerced to ‘let go’ of her reserved nature. I’m not saying it’s excusable, just that it is understandable that someone in his position could get the wrong idea, probably through a fixated narrow focus, and failing to consider the bigger picture.

#14
chewy144:34 pm, 06 Dec 13

gungsuperstar said :

You’re all missing the point. The issue isn’t about his enthusiasm or her inexperience.

The issue is the plan stupidity of becoming involved, or attempting to become involved with anyone over whom you have power… in reading that case, Sydney never happens if the defendant doesn’t use his power over the plaintiff to coerce her into the quasi-relationship that they shared.

I hate this notion that this is about making really, really sure that she says yes – it’s not, and it’s victim-blaming bull****that makes me really angry. The only reason the defendant was possibly unsure isn’t because of her psychological state, it’s because of the bizarre power balance of the relationship where he though he could do whatever he wanted and that he would get away with it.

Why shouldn’t she take it through the civil court? Her prerogative wasn’t to have him jailed – it was to recoup the money that she’d lost as a result of his actions.

Completely disagree. You are totally removing any agency from this woman and its nowhere near as simple as you portray. I’ll stick 100% by my last comment.

#15
banco9:16 pm, 06 Dec 13

It looks like she never told him she was a virgin. Any man with any sense would run for his life from a late 30′s virgin.

#16
gungsuperstar9:37 pm, 06 Dec 13

chewy14 said :

gungsuperstar said :

You’re all missing the point. The issue isn’t about his enthusiasm or her inexperience.

The issue is the plan stupidity of becoming involved, or attempting to become involved with anyone over whom you have power… in reading that case, Sydney never happens if the defendant doesn’t use his power over the plaintiff to coerce her into the quasi-relationship that they shared.

I hate this notion that this is about making really, really sure that she says yes – it’s not, and it’s victim-blaming bull****that makes me really angry. The only reason the defendant was possibly unsure isn’t because of her psychological state, it’s because of the bizarre power balance of the relationship where he though he could do whatever he wanted and that he would get away with it.

Why shouldn’t she take it through the civil court? Her prerogative wasn’t to have him jailed – it was to recoup the money that she’d lost as a result of his actions.

Completely disagree. You are totally removing any agency from this woman and its nowhere near as simple as you portray. I’ll stick 100% by my last comment.

I wonder how many people got to the end?

Many of you seem to be taking Moon at his word, despite the judge finding much of his evidence to be wrong, and some of his evidence to be outright lies.

#17
CraigT12:47 pm, 07 Dec 13

chewy14 said :

Wow, reading that is just, wow.

Men, be extremely careful about obtaining not just consent but enthusiastic consent. Not talking or not saying no is not the same as saying yes. Each time, every time.

Women, be forceful and vocal with men if you’re not interested. Small signs, big signs, blaring signs are open to misreading.

Yeah, and maybe when you go on a work trip, don’t get a shared room.

I’ve never heard of sharing a room on a work trip. What a dodgy setup.

#18
Henry824:05 pm, 07 Dec 13

CraigT said :

I’ve never heard of sharing a room on a work trip. What a dodgy setup.

I don’t really see the issue to be honest. One would expect two mature adults to be…mature.

Maybe other rooms were sold out?

#19
drfelonious9:25 pm, 07 Dec 13

Hmmmm – I think this case raises some very interesting legal questions, among them:

Was the test in Briginshaw v Briginshaw correctly applied here, and

Does the test only require the court to determine whether or not an act occurred (i.e. the plaintiff did not consent) or is does the test require contemplation of some form of objective test about whether or not the plaintiff consented?

#20
m00nee10:55 pm, 07 Dec 13

Henry82 said :

CraigT said :

I’ve never heard of sharing a room on a work trip. What a dodgy setup.

I don’t really see the issue to be honest. One would expect two mature adults to be…mature.

Maybe other rooms were sold out?

Sharing a suite or serviced apartment is quite common, I’ve done it numerous times. All government employees get a accommodation allowance when they travel. By combining allowances you can either save the department money, or you can upgrade from a (in some instances) pretty crappy hotel to something far more luxurious.

Having said that it appears that in this instance when it came to the accommodation, pleasure came before business.

#21
CraigT8:01 am, 08 Dec 13

Henry82 said :

CraigT said :

I’ve never heard of sharing a room on a work trip. What a dodgy setup.

I don’t really see the issue to be honest. One would expect two mature adults to be…mature.

Maybe other rooms were sold out?

I can’t think of anybody I work with that I would want to share a room with. It’s bad enough having to work with them, imagine having to see them in the jim-jams as well. EURGHGH!

#22
maxblues1:21 pm, 08 Dec 13

Whitehead vs Moon…a pimple vs a bare arse?

#23
Masquara3:14 pm, 08 Dec 13

maxblues said :

Whitehead vs Moon…a pimple vs a bare arse?

It’s very clear from the judgement that there’s a very vulnerable individual involved here, so you should perhaps be taking that into account. From where you or I sit, this joke could be funny. But someone in the middle of the trauma of being discussed online in this horrible context could take it very badly.

#24
maxblues3:28 pm, 08 Dec 13

Masquara said :

maxblues said :

Whitehead vs Moon…a pimple vs a bare arse?

It’s very clear from the judgement that there’s a very vulnerable individual involved here, so you should perhaps be taking that into account. From where you or I sit, this joke could be funny. But someone in the middle of the trauma of being discussed online in this horrible context could take it very badly.

$600,000 should ease the joke I am sure.

#25
Masquara3:54 pm, 08 Dec 13

maxblues said :

Masquara said :

maxblues said :

Whitehead vs Moon…a pimple vs a bare arse?

It’s very clear from the judgement that there’s a very vulnerable individual involved here, so you should perhaps be taking that into account. From where you or I sit, this joke could be funny. But someone in the middle of the trauma of being discussed online in this horrible context could take it very badly.

$600,000 should ease the joke I am sure.

The $600,000 is compensation for losses, not any kind of bonus.

#26
Deborah6:43 pm, 08 Dec 13

I think it’s sad that this woman is being violated all over again with her private details being discussed in a public forum. I hope her solicitor made her aware that the judgement would be made public.

#27
Pork Hunt11:01 pm, 08 Dec 13

Masquara said :

maxblues said :

Masquara said :

maxblues said :

Whitehead vs Moon…a pimple vs a bare arse?

It’s very clear from the judgement that there’s a very vulnerable individual involved here, so you should perhaps be taking that into account. From where you or I sit, this joke could be funny. But someone in the middle of the trauma of being discussed online in this horrible context could take it very badly.

$600,000 should ease the joke I am sure.

The $600,000 is compensation for losses, not any kind of bonus.

I wish someone gave me $600,000 for being that gullible…

#28
banco1:44 am, 09 Dec 13

Given his legal defence will likely have run into 6 figures and he’ll probably declare bankruptcy I doubt she’ll see the $600,000.

#29
CraigT6:24 am, 09 Dec 13

Masquara said :

maxblues said :

Whitehead vs Moon…a pimple vs a bare arse?

It’s very clear from the judgement that there’s a very vulnerable individual involved here, so you should perhaps be taking that into account. From where you or I sit, this joke could be funny. But someone in the middle of the trauma of being discussed online in this horrible context could take it very badly.

Yeah, somebody so vulnerable she’d managed to be promoted to EL, then milked the whole stress-leave malarkey to the max.

Together with her psycho supervisor, the pair of them demonstrate quite clearly that the public service is a sheltered workshop for people who could never operate succesfully in the real world.

#30
screaming banshee6:27 am, 09 Dec 13

It certainly comes off that the guy is an arsehole, and I dare say that had the verdict gone the other way she would probably try to top herself again, but based upon my reading in full of the judgement I don’t see this as a fair outcome. In regards to the quality of evidence, I can see where details would be left out by the defendant like the blood on the workcover statement. The plaintiff has run through the events over and over again in her head and appeared to be beating herself up over the way she acted, rather than what actually happened.

What shocks me about this though is the nonsense that goes on in contracting circles, for a start why on earth should he govt be covering the cost of an industry conference for contractors…it’s up to them to maintain their skills and be across industry developments.

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