Trigger Warning: This article contains references to domestic abuse and assault.
On Sunday, January 31, television presenter Andrew O’Keefe was charged with domestic assault after an alleged domestic violence incidence against his partner.
The incident is likely to become one of the more prominent cases in a #MeToo era Australia, given O’Keefe’s privileged background — a former lawyer who is also the son of former NSW Supreme Court justice Barry O’Keefe — and the fact that he was a founding member of domestic violence charity the White Ribbon Foundation.
Now no longer a part of the Channel Seven family, The Chase host’s future, both onscreen and off, remains uncertain.
Here’s what we already know about the events surrounding the allegations made against O’Keefe.
Sunday, January 31, 2021
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, O’Keefe was arrested in the early hours of the morning after allegedly assaulting his partner, Orly Lavee, at a Randwick apartment.
In a statement made on January 31, NSW Police said: “Just before 1am, officers from Eastern Beaches Police Area Command attended a Randwick unit, after reports a 41-year-old woman had allegedly been assaulted in a domestic violence related incident. Following inquiries, police arrested a 49-year-old man nearby about 3.30am. He was taken to Maroubra police station where he was charged with common assault (DV) and granted conditional bail to appear at Waverley Local Court on Thursday, 4 February 2021.”
The outlet also reported that O’Keefe was granted bail on the condition that he avoid all contact with Lavee, unless through a lawyer.
Tuesday, February 2, 2021
Channel Seven confirmed that O’Keefe was no longer with the network, but maintained that he had departed long before the charges against him were brought about and that he would still appear in pre-recorded episodes of The Chase.
A statement issued by a Channel Seven spokesperson said: “Seven is obviously very concerned to read the reports regarding Andrew O’Keefe.
“Seven has had a 17-year relationship with Andrew across a number of programs, although he is no longer with the network.
“As this is a police matter before the courts, we cannot comment further. The program hosted by Andrew, The Chase Australia, is not currently in production. The program is produced for Seven by ITV Studios Australia. Production will resume soon and a decision about who will host future series is still to be made.”
SMH also reported that O’Keefe, who previously hosted Deal or No Deal, intends to fight the charges against him.
Meanwhile, Brad Chilcott — the executive director of White Ribbon — said in a statement, “We are saddened to hear that Dr Orly Lavee has allegedly been assaulted by Andrew O’Keefe, a man who was previously aligned with White Ribbon Australia and is now charged with assault. There is never any excuse for violence or abuse.
“We stand in solidarity with every victim and survivor of men’s violence against women, and believe men who use violence must be held to account.
“White Ribbon Australia exists to create a future where women are free from all forms of men’s violence and abuse. We recognise that this means addressing gender inequality, refusing to condone men’s disrespectful attitudes or controlling behaviours and dismantling cultural norms that privilege male desires, decisions, opinions and ambition.
“We are often asked what the first thing is that people can do to help end gendered violence. Our answer: believe women.”
Thursday, February 4
O’Keefe was due in court on February 4, but was not present at Waverley Local Court, with his lawyer, Claudette Chua, instead appearing on his behalf.
“We’ve sought a short adjournment in circumstances where Mr O’Keefe has been unable to give instructions on such short notice,” Ms Chua said to reporters outside the court. “I have had an opportunity to review the facts of the matter and I will say this: Mr O’Keefe was certainly not the aggressor in this situation and Dr Lavee will have a lot to answer for.”
His case will return to court on February 18.
This story is evolving.
If you or someone you know is the victim of domestic abuse, please call Domestic Violence Line on 1800 65 64 63 or 1800-RESPECT 1800 737 732.