Police investigate allegations Richmond player shared topless photo of woman
Police are investigating allegations that a Richmond AFL player shared without consent a topless photo of a woman wearing a 2017 premiership medal.
The photo emerged on social media last week, just days after Richmond won its first grand final in 37years.
The woman reportedly told the Herald Sun she had consented to the photo being taken but not to it being shared.
The player reportedly told her that he had deleted the image from his phone, but instead he allegedly shared it via text message with a number of friends.
In a statement, Victoria police confirmed it was investigating the incident.
“Yarra crime investigation unit detectives are investigating an image distributed on social media,” the statement said. “The image was posted without consent. As the investigation is ongoing it would be inappropriate to comment further.”
Richmond CEO Brendon Gale said on Wednesday that he was aware of the “circumstances” of the photo and said the club “feels very strongly” about promoting respectful behaviour to women.
“We’re committed to assisting police with any enquiries – should they be required – so at this stage it would be inappropriate to comment any further,” Gale told AFL.com.au on Wednesday.
He added: “This club feels very strongly about creating an environment where women can thrive, and this club feels very strongly about promoting attitudes and behaviours that are respectful of and supportive of women.”
AFL spokesman Patrick Keane said the organisation was making no comment because the matter was before the police.
In Victoria, anyone who intentionally distributes an intimate image of another person in circumstances that are “contrary to community standards of acceptable conduct” could be jailed for up to two years. The crime is commonly known as revenge porn.
The legislation specifies that sharing an image without a person’s “express or implied consent” would be considered contrary to community standards of acceptable conduct.
The AFL introduced a “respect and responsibility” policy in 2005, which included an education program for players to teach them about the impact of sexual assault and harassment, to understand the meaning of consent and “identify situations that have the potential to go wrong” and to “build and maintain social relationships with women that are healthy and respectful”.
Richmond have signed on to the policy and their president, Peggy O’Neal, has spoken in support of the policy and of the need for clubs to do more to achieve gender equality.
O’Neal is the first female president of an AFL club.
On ABC’s Q amp; A program on Monday night she declined to comment on the specifics of the topless photo scandal beyond saying that being disrespectful to women was “not what our club’s about” and that people “make errors in judgment all the time”.
“I can’t really comment on the particular event,” she said. “I don’t have all the facts about that. But if it turns out that it is disrespectful to women, we certainly don’t stand for that, that’s not what our club’s about, and if someone has made a disrespectful and humiliating gesture, then of course it will be taken into account.”
O’Neal said Richmond had demonstrated it stood for equality and inclusiveness.
“So the fact that someone has made a terrible judgment and maybe has been disrespectful – again, I don’t know the particulars of what you’re talking about – I think that that doesn’t say that’s what the club’s about, that’s what sport’s about, and people make errors in judgment all the time.”
She also said the respect and responsibility policy, which was supposed to be updated in 2015, should be “modernised”, and said individual clubs had stricter codes of behaviour than the league as a whole.
“So, I don’t think that what looks like something that could be humiliating that’s happened with one player, isn’t what the entire AFL is about and I don’t think that’s what sport’s about,” she said. “And I think as we see more and more women become involved in participation as well as leadership roles, things like that just won’t happen.”
The AFL would not confirm that it was conducting an internal investigation into the incident, but O’Neal said she expected the investigation had already begun.
Richmond FC have been contacted for comment.
Photo of topless woman wearing premiership medal emerged days after Richmond won.