independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

'Victim' denies kissing former Irish international Anton Rodgers in sexual assault trial

THE trial of a former Irish underage soccer international accused of assaulting a drunken 19-year-old woman has heard that she tried to kiss and cuddle the player while he was dressed in his boxer shorts.

Anton Rodgers (19) son of Liverpool manager Brendan, is one of four footballers accused of sexually assaulting the woman while she was passed out in a hotel room in Brighton.

The 21-year-old woman denied a defence suggestion yesterday that she got into a hotel bed voluntarily and that she tried to kiss and cuddle Mr Rodgers and his Brighton and Hove Albion team-mate George Barker (21), who were both dressed in their underwear.

The offences were said to have happened at the Jury's Inn Hotel in Brighton in July 2011.

The prosecution alleges that the players took mobile-phone photographs showing lewd scenes.

The woman has admitted telling lies to police and her employers but maintains that she is telling the truth about what went on in the room.

Mark Cotter, defending Mr Barker, said: "I suggest to you that Mr Rodgers and Mr Barker were in the double bed in their boxer shorts and you got into bed between them.

"I suggest you initiated an attempt to kiss and cuddle Mr Rodgers and then did the same with Mr Barker."

The woman replied: "I definitely did not."

Mr Cotter suggested that she was "a prolific liar" who had lied about photographs she had seen on a mobile phone.

Asked if she had "seriously exaggerated" the contents of pictures, she answered: "It was humiliating and they should not have done it. They have to live with it."

Brighton and Hove Albion players Anton Rodgers, Lewis Dunk (21), George Barker (21) and a former teammate Steve Cook (21), who now plays for Bournemouth, deny sexual assault.

The only picture found on the men's phones was of Mr Barker posing by his initials in foam on the woman's thigh.

Mobile phones

Shown the picture in court, the woman said it was not the picture she saw. That one had shown her underwear pulled up.

The woman, who was 19 at the time, said she had been drinking in clubs but denied she had 15 shots of alcohol before passing out.

After missing work the next day, she told her bosses she had been attacked in the street because she feared being sacked.

She said after they insisted on calling the police, she told more lies but dropped "hints" that she picked up from watching 'CSI' on television.

She changed her story six months later after an "awful" row with another player at the club with whom she had been sleeping.

She denied a suggestion on behalf of Mr Rodgers that she had been awake at times during the night and had joined in the "larking about".

Brian O'Neill QC, for Mr Dunk, suggested she had told 10 "significant lies" to police. She had a "keen interest in footballers" and at one stage was pursuing three Brighton players. The woman said she had been involved with one player later in the year.

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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