Friday, May 8, 2009

League sex case 'won't be reopened'

New Zealand police have ruled out reopening an investigation into a night of group sex involving former rugby league star Matthew Johns and a 19-year-old woman.

On a Four Corners program to be aired this Monday, the woman says the night at a Christchurch hotel involving several Cronulla Sharks players left her with significant emotional trauma.

Mr Johns insists the group sex during a pre-season tour seven years ago was consensual.

Detective Senior Sergeant Dave Long from Christchurch Police says the woman complained to his colleagues about the incident in 2002.

"As a result of that complaint, police officers went to Australia and interviewed every member of the touring party, including all players and officials," he said.

"As a result of speaking to all possible witnesses or persons that had information about the matter, it was decided that there was insufficient evidence to put the matter before a court.

"Nothing's changed since then... The lady who made the allegations was advised and consulted with about the outcome of the investigation, and there's no new information that's come forward since."

Speaking on the Nine Network's Footy Show on Thursday night, Mr Johns apologised to his family.

"It caused all parties enormous pain and embarrassment," he said.

"For me personally, it has put my family through enormous anguish and embarrassment and it has once again. For that I can't say sorry enough.

"But the police did investigate the situation at the time, the allegation, and there was no charges laid."

The New Zealand woman has told Four Corners the incident was degrading.

"Every time I looked up there would be more and more people in the room and there's lots of guys in the room watching - maybe two or three were on the bed that were doing stuff to me," she said.

She goes on to talk about the impact it has had on her life.

Rugby league has already been dogged this season by allegations of misbehaviour, including drunkenness and allegations of sexual assault involving high-profile players.

The NRL will not comment specifically on the incident in New Zealand, other than to say it believes there has been a significant improvement in player behaviour since an education program was launched five years ago.

Matthew Johns is the face of the league's 2009 advertising campaign, aimed at encouraging families to buy season memberships.

The NRL says that ad campaign has now run its course. It says it did not know about the incident when the high-profile commentator and former international was chosen to front it.


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