Monday 24 July 2017

It was just banter, says footballer accused of sex assault

Shenai Raif

A Brighton football player charged with sexually assaulting a teenager in a hotel room claimed it was nothing more than boys' banter.

Anton Rodgers (20), a former under-19 Irish international, denied there was a sexual element to what went on in the room where photographs were taken on mobile phones.

Mr Rodgers' father, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, sat at the back of the court.

Anton Rodgers, pictured, said: "This was never the case. It was just a bit of boy banter. It was a laugh but it seems stupid now. She was just giggling. She was laughing. She was bubbly."

He denied the 19-year-old was asleep. He said team-mate Leon Redwood came into the room and sprayed the initials GB, representing fellow player George Barker, on to her thigh.

Mr Rodgers said he took a photograph of Mr Barker making a thumbs-up sign next to the girl.

"It was a funny picture at the time. That's all it meant," he added.

Brighton and Hove Albion players Mr Rodgers, Mr Barker (21), Lewis Dunk (21), and former team-mate Steve Cook (21), who now plays for Bournemouth, deny sexual assault and voyeurism.

The prosecution claims the players assaulted the drunken woman when she was asleep and took pictures as a "record of their conquest".

They were arrested six months after the incident in July 2011 following a night out clubbing in Brighton to celebrate winning a local cup.

The trial continues today.

Irish Independent

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