The married Covid professor accused of sexually assaulting a female colleague at a work retreat asked her to pay to clean a hotel sofa she vomited on, a tribunal has heard.
Dr Giang Thu Nguyen told the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal that the morning after he allegedly sexual assaulted her, Professor Joshua Ross asked to use her credit card for the sofa to be cleaned.
Dr Nguyen told the hearing when she woke naked on the couch in Professor Ross’s room in the Stamford Grand Hotel and saw him asleep in his bed before she vomited on the couch and went to the bathroom.
She later made a complaint to police alleging the sex had been non-consensual because she was too intoxicated to consent to what had occurred.
The hearings are part of Dr Nguyen’s compensation case against the university and Professor Ross for almost $1million.
She now unable to work and requires treatment for ongoing post-traumatic stress.
Professor Joshua Ross, whose work has helped shape South Australia’s response to Covid-19, has denied assaulting university colleague Dr Giang Thu Nguyen, with whom he had sex on a retreat. Professor Ross insists any sexual activity between the pair was consensual
Dr Nguyen alleges when she woke naked on a couch in Professor Ross’s room, saw him asleep in his bed and threw up on the couch before crawling to the bathroom. She later made a complaint to police
The Stamford Grand Hotel where Dr Giang Thu Nguyen alleges non-consensual sex with Dr Ross took place during a work retreat
‘He said he was sorry, that he was not proud of what he had done but, if anyone found out about it, his life would be ruined,’ Dr Nguyen told the tribunal, the Adelaide Advertiser reported.
The two were Adelaide University colleagues and were attending the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Mathematical and Statistical Frontiers three-day retreat.
Dr Nguyen also claimed she witnessed Professor Ross, who is the South Australian government’s lead Covid modeller, rehearse lying to hotel staff in the bathroom mirror about the vomit stain.
‘(Later) I realised that, if he was practising lying in front of the mirror, then he’s capable of lying, which means he’s capable of doing something that’s not good,’ she told the hearing.
Professor Ross insists his sexual activity with Dr Nguyen at the beachside hotel on November 1, 2019 was consensual
Dr Nguyen, who works with Professor Ross at the University of Adelaide, is alleging she was sexually harassed and the university failed to adequately investigate her complaint. She is seeking $970,948 in damages, lost wages, entitlements and future expenses
Professor Ross insists his sexual activity with Dr Nguyen at the beachside hotel on November 1, 2019 was consensual.
He asserted Dr Nguyen initiated sexual contact by kissing him and was a ‘willing consensual partner… cognisant and capable of consent’, according to documents seen by the The Advertiser.
But Dr Nguyen claims she was ‘not able to consent, and did not consent’ when Professor Nguyen performed sex acts on her in the hotel room because she was too intoxicated.
A group, including Professor Ross and Dr Nguyen, dined at Sammy’s on the Marina then had drinks at the Moseley Bar and Kitchen and the Glenelg Pier Hotel until 2am.
‘By around this time, [Dr Nguyen] was extremely intoxicated to the extent that she experienced significant memory impairment, loss of balance and coordination, slurred speech and slow decision making,’ court documents state.
Dr Nguyen alleges Professor Ross had sexual intercourse with her in his hotel room between 1.45am and 5am.
She is seeking $970,948 in damages, lost wages, entitlements and future expenses at the tribunal over alleged breaches of the Equal Opportunity Act.
Dr Nguyen, who works with Professor Ross at the University of Adelaide, is also alleging the university failed to adequately investigate her complaint.
She is the director of gender diversity and inclusion for the university’s Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Science and a chess champion.
She represented Australia in six Chess Olympiads.
The University of Adelaide stands by its findings that there was insufficient evidence to conclude a sexual assault occurred and says it would not be responsible if it did
Professor Ross says he voluntarily provided a statement to police and was told in March 2020 detectives would not be charging him with any offence.
His response to Dr Nguyen’s claim states the university said it was satisfied he had engaged in ‘no serious misconduct’.
According to Dr Nguyen, the alleged assault by Professor Ross resulted in ‘offence, humiliation and intimidation’ due to her extreme intoxication and because she was his subordinate.
‘The university has harboured a system, culture or practice of not investigating complaints of sexual harassment with requisite seriousness,’ she alleged.
When questioned by Professor Ross’s legal representatives whether she was worried about being judged by colleagues for sleeping with a married man she responded that if she chose to have ‘consensual sex’ then it was irrelevant ‘what other people think’.
Documents filed on Professor Ross’ behalf state on the night he had sex with Dr Nguyen the pair ‘sat very closely next to each other on a sofa’ and she initiated a kiss on the lips.
‘At all material times, Dr Nguyen was cognisant and capable of consenting to sexual activity,’ Professor Ross claims. ‘[Dr Nguyen] was a willing consensual partner in sexual relations.’
The university stands by its findings that there was insufficient evidence to conclude a sexual assault had occurred and says it would not be responsible if it did.
It further denies Professor Ross is Dr Nguyen’s supervisor and says it can ensure the two academics are never rostered on at the same time on the campus.
The hearing continues.