Po­lice in­ves­ti­gate al­le­ga­tions Rich­mond player shared top­less photo of woman

The Guardian Australia - - News - Calla Wahlquist

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.

Pho­to­graph: Dar­rian Traynor/Getty Im­ages

Photo of top­less woman wear­ing premier­ship medal emerged days after Rich­mond won.

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