Paddy Jackson apologises for WhatsApp conversations and 'betraying family values'
Ireland and Ulster rugby player Paddy Jackson, who was last week acquitted of rape, has told the Press Association he is ashamed the woman who accused him left his home distressed, has apologised for engaging in “degrading and offensive” WhatsApp chats and said he has betrayed his family’s values.
Jackson, 26, and his Ireland and Ulster teammate Stuart Olding, 25, were unanimously acquitted at Belfast Crown Court last week of raping the same woman at a party at his south Belfast home in June 2016.
Jackson was also found not guilty of sexual assault.
In a statement issued to PA, he said he would always regret the events of the night in question.
He apologised "unreservedly" for engaging in "degrading and offensive" WhatsApp conversations about the incident.
The fly-half said public criticism of his behaviour was "fully justified" and he expressed determination to return to the values and principles that guided his upbringing, in particular the importance of respect.
Jackson and Olding have both expressed a desire to return to playing action.
But they remain relieved of their duties pending the outcome of a review into their conduct by Ulster Rugby and the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU).
Jackson's full statement, issued through PA, reads: "I am ashamed that a young woman who was a visitor to my home left in a distressed state. This was never my intention and I will always regret the events of that evening.
"I am also truly sorry for engaging in a WhatsApp group chat which was degrading and offensive and I apologise unreservedly for this.
"The criticism of my behaviour is fully justified and I know I have betrayed the values of my family and those of the wider public.
"Following the trial I have taken time to reflect with my family on the values that were such an integral part of my upbringing, the most important of which is respect. My departure from these values has caused understandable public anger and I am resolutely committed to returning to those principles."
In the wake of his acquittal, Olding also expressed regret for his involvement in the incident.
Two other men were unanimously acquitted of lesser charges related to the high profile case.
Blane McIlroy, 26, was acquitted of exposure while Rory Harrison, 25, was found not guilty of perverting the course of justice and withholding information.