Craig Kelly staffer Frank Zumbo told young female colleague ‘no man would love her more’, court hears | Australia news

A senior staff member of former MP Craig Kelly told a young woman that no man she could marry would ever love her more than he did, despite her telling him she had no romantic interest in him and repeatedly rebuffing his requests for physical contact, a Sydney court has heard.

Francesco “Frank” Zumbo, 55, faces 20 charges, including sexual touching and indecent assault, linked to accusations by five women between 2014 and 2020.

On Wednesday, Downing Centre local court continued to hear covert recordings of discussions between him and the third alleged victim. In one recording, Zumbo told the woman he had been “the wind beneath your wings” in helping her professionally.

Zumbo has pleaded not guilty to all charges, with his defense lawyers arguing he tried to create a collegial atmosphere and none of the alleged sexual contacts occurred.

The woman met Zumbo as a student in his class at the University of New South Wales and was invited to volunteer with Kelly before the 2013 election. She was later offered paid employment in his office.

She previously told the court that Zumbo insisted on picking her up and driving her home daily. Covert audio recordings made by the woman in several interactions in his car have been played before the court as evidence.

Craig Kelly

On Wednesday, the court heard recordings of Zumbo admitting to the woman that he had “feelings for you in an emotional and physical sense,” but he suggested he was better behaved than other men would be with her because he had “never acted on them”.

“You’re a physically attractive woman, and guys will take liberties with you … [but] I am the absolute perfect gentleman,” he said on the recordings played in court.

The court also heard a conversation between the two in which Zumbo asked the woman if she felt he had ever forced himself on her, to which she replied no. However, she told prosecutors he had, in fact hugged her and touched her legs in multiple car trips and that she had lied about this to Zumbo, so he did not start “another conversation”.

In another section of conversation recorded by the woman, Zumbo told her he had acted “like a presidential motorcade” for her and that he could take her to “dizzying heights”.

“You’re an extremely attractive person,” he said. “You’re a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful person … I tell everyone about you.

“I’ve seen the future, and if you marry a boy … your husband will not love you as much as I love you,” he said on the recordings.

Zumbo said on the recordings he was “driven by an insatiable desire” to improve her and support her financially, which he called “real love”, and that he was not driven by sexual desire.

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Zumbo then asked the woman if she knew what it was like to have a broken relationship. She said that she did and replied to his repeated requests for more information by saying she did not wish to discuss it with him.

Zumbo then asked her if she had ever been romantically involved with women. He then attempted to ask her about her political ambitions, asking if she ever hoped to “inspire people” like Barack Obama or Ronald Reagan.

Previous recordings heard by the court have captured Zumbo telling the woman he had been “working under the misapprehension that maybe we could develop into something more” and his frustration at her refusal to kiss or hug him as a friendly gesture.

On Tuesday, the court heard recordings of Zumbo scolding the young woman for posting a photo to social media that he felt drew attention to her breasts, as well as chastising her for not inviting him to her university graduation ceremony and for refusing his request to follow her on Instagram.

Bella E. McMahon
I am a freelance writer who started blogging in college. I am fascinated by human nature, politics, culture, technology, and pop culture. In addition to my writing, I enjoy exploring new places, trying out new things, and engaging in conversations with new people. Some of my favorite hobbies are reading, playing music, making crafts, writing, traveling, and spending time with my family.