Bulldogs gang rape allegation

Bulldogs gang rape allegation

The Bulldogs gang rape allegation was a major scandal which engulfed the Bulldogs, a Sydney-based professional rugby league team, in early 2004. A number of unidentified players were accused of gang raping a young woman at a resort in Coffs Harbour, New South Wales. Although no charges were laid, the scandal led to the resignations of a number of senior managers at the Bulldogs, and provoked intense discussion of Australian rugby league players' attitudes to women.


In late February 2004, a 20-year-old woman filed a complaint with Coffs Harbour police over an incident involving Bulldogs players. She alleged that she had been raped by multiple members of the Bulldogs team in the pool area of the Pacific Bay Resort, where the team had been staying, in the early hours of Sunday 22 February.cite news|url=http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/02/28/1077677017509.html|title=Rugby rocked by fresh rape claims|last=Magnay|first=Jacquelin|date=2004-02-29|publisher=The Age|accessdate=2008-07-08]


Strike Force McGuigon was established to investigate the woman's allegations. The Bulldogs players under investigation were not named, although it was revealed that a total of six were being investigated. Only two players were suspected of 'gang rape', while another four were implicated for allegedly withholding information from police.Fact|date=July 2008

Eventually, on April 27, New South Wales Director of Public Prosecutions Nicholas Cowdery informed detectives that he did not believe there was sufficient evidence to prosecute any Bulldogs players. The police accordingly decided not to lay charges. [cite news|url=http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/04/27/1082831560154.html|title=No Bulldogs charged over rape allegations|date=2004-04-27|publisher=AAP|accessdate=2008-07-08]

Media Coverage

The incident drew considerable media interest, and subjected the sport of rugby league to unprecedented national scrutiny. In particular, there was intense debate about attitudes to women and to sexual activity amongst rugby league players. After some Bulldog players admitted to engaging in consensual group sex with the woman a few days earlier,Fact|date=July 2008 there was media speculationFact|date=July 2008 that group sexual activity (colloquially known as 'gang banging') is a trend throughout the professional rugby league community, as well as amongst young people more generally.

Criticism of the investigation

In the months and years following the scandal, there has been criticism of the police investigation. Two senior detectivesFact|date=July 2008 have stated that it was clear very early in the investigation that the woman's claims were 'nonsense'. For instance, in 2006 Detective Senior Sergeant Gary McEvoy, the investigative manager of Strike Force McGuigon, made serious criticisms of the investigation. He said that within 48 hours of the investigation commencing, it became clear that charges would not be laid. He argued that the woman's account of the evening's events was inaccurate, saying that he "would go so far as to say that on Sunday the 22nd of February 2004 there was no woman raped in the pool area of the Pacific Bay Resort". He also implied that higher-ranked police officers had pushed for the investigation to continue despite a lack of evidence, saying that "the evidence just wasn't there, it didn't support the rape allegations and as investigators we had very serious concerns; yet despite that, the aggressive police strategy continued ... Everyone in the investigation saw the signs but the people above us were not listening".cite news|title=Bulldogs 'rape' was nonsense: detective|last=Magnay|first=Jacquelin|date=2006-05-06|work=The Sydney Morning Herald|pages=66] Detective Chief Inspector Jason Breton, who replaced McEvoy as investigative manager later in the investigation, refused to respond to his remarks.


Despite the decision not to lay charges, the National Rugby League announced that the Bulldogs would be fined $150000, and an additional $350000 if there were any other allegations of off-field misbehaviour before the end of the 2004 season. NRL chief executive officer David Gallop said that the fine had been imposed because during the months of media scrutiny the club had failed to behave "in a way which protected the game's image".cite news|url=http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2004/s1096854.htm|title=NRL fines Bulldogs for Coffs Harbour incident|last=Foschia|first=Liz|date=2004-04-28|publisher=Australian Broadcasting Corporation|accessdate=2008-07-08]

The scandal led to ongoing problems for the Bulldogs. In 2006, Bulldogs chief executive Malcolm Noad noted that the allegations had led to the loss of millions of dollars of sponsorship money, and to continuing negative beliefs in the community about Bulldogs players and supporters. He said that even two years after the events, Bulldogs fans were sometimes taunted as 'rapists' at matches.

A grassroots movement, Football Fans Against Sexual Assault, was set up to lobby football clubs to allow their players to wear purple armbands during matches in support of women's rights.Fact|date=July 2008

ee also

*List of Rugby league incidents


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