Mon. Apr 15th, 2024
alert-–-boss-at-hudsons-coffee-chain-cafes-preyed-upon-teenage-girls-working-in-his-melbourne-cafes-for-six-years-–-as-victims-bravely-detail-his-sick-sexual-harassment-and-abuseAlert – Boss at Hudsons Coffee chain cafes preyed upon teenage girls working in his Melbourne cafes for six years – as victims bravely detail his sick sexual harassment and abuse

EXCLUSIVE 

A perverted boss who preyed on teenage girls working their very first jobs at a major coffee chain left them frightened to re-enter the workplace after years of abuse. 

Mark Edward Whitelock, 52, of Melbourne suburb Mill Park, owned and operated two Hudsons Coffee franchises, where he subjected the young girls to sexual harassment and abuse over six years. 

The once successful cafes operated out of two large hospitals in Melbourne’s north-eastern suburbs. 

On Thursday, the father of tennis pro Marcus Whitelock was convicted and fined $40,000 in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court over two sexual harassment charges after his young victims bravely reported him to WorkSafe Victoria.

He had pleaded guilty to two charges under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of failing to make the workplace safe by sexually harassing staff members between April 2014 and December 2020. 

Whitelock’s companies was fined $250,000 – a fine that will never be paid because they have now been placed in administration.

The court heard Whitelock had been remorseless for his years of offending and, after being caught by investigators, offered a forensic doctor a ‘watered down’ version of his behaviour. 

Mark Edward Whitelock (pictured) abused teenage girls under his employ at Hudsons Coffee 

Whitelock (pictured right, with a young woman who is not alleged to be one of his victims) enjoyed touching, humiliating and violating his young, female workers 

READ MORE: Aussies lose it over Hudsons Coffee charging $14 for a basic bacon & egg roll

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Magistrate Belinda Franjic condemned Whitelock for abusing his vulnerable victims, who had nowhere to turn. 

The court heard teenage sisters were among his victims, with both routinely enduring lewd questioning, groping and sexual degradation. 

‘Did you f**k anyone on the weekend?’ he would ask the 16-year old, who was working her first job. 

‘He asked her about sexual acts and the number of sexual partners she had had. On two occasions he grabbed her groin and made unnecessary physical contact with her in the form of thrusting his hips into her and brushing against her body,’ Ms Franjic told the court. 

‘He constantly slapped her bottom and grabbed her breasts. She said Mr Whitelock would usually behave this way in front of male employees and that he encouraged similar behaviour from the male employees.’

Her 17-year old sister endured near identical abuse and sexual assaults, having her bottom slapped ‘every shift’, the court heard.  

Another 16-year old in her first job told investigators that Whitelock claimed she ‘looked like a prostitute’ and once provided painkillers he asked her to ingest in his car. 

‘So that he could, quote, “touch her arse”,’ Ms Franjic said. 

Another teen said he shoved her head into his groin as she bent over and made comments about oral sex.  

Whitelock’s other victims each shared similar tales of horror at the hands of their boss. 

The court heard teenage sisters were among Whitelock’s victims, with both routinely enduring lewd questioning, groping and sexual degradation

Whitelock is pictured in one of his Hudsons Coffee franchises where he sexually harassed teenage workers 

In a series of powerful victim impact statements read to the court, the consequences of Whitelock’s vile behaviour was laid bare. 

‘I very often had panic attacks prior to or during shifts. I was constantly feeling unsafe, uneasy, on edge, belittled and often violated just by being in the presence of (Whitelock),’ one victim stated. 

‘I was young and unaware of what was expected from a boss,’ another stated. ‘When the inappropriate behaviour started I understood this to be normal and acceptable behaviour to receive from an employer.’

Another victim said Whitelock’s abuse had caused her lifelong issues with men and trust. 

‘You stole my innocence. Your crime of foul words and disgusting actions have paved the way for how I allowed men to behave and act towards me in my life … you destroyed my life,’ she said. 

‘You took away things I’ll never get back. All the damage you have caused has put its mark on my whole life.’

The court heard Whitelock had made it near impossible for the girls to report his offending. 

Mark Edward Whitelock tried to use his work with children as a mitigating factor in his case

‘In circumstances where there was no human resources manager on site who staff members could readily speak to, it was incumbent upon the companies to inform staff about how they could report breaches to the company in a way that did not involve Mr Whitelock,’ Ms Franjic said. 

‘The failure of the companies to so inform their staff allowed Mr Whitelock’s egregious conduct to continue unabated.’

The court heard Whitelock claimed the demise of his ‘successful company’ was due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

He also used his previous ‘good character’ to try to escape conviction. 

The court heard Whitelock had no prior convictions and had previously worked as the head of fundraising at Eltham College. 

He also has an extensive history coaching football, including children in the AFL’s Auskick program. 

He is now separated from his wife and has started a new career as a disability support worker, which is likely to end upon his conviction being recorded.  

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