ACCUSER’S LIFE SPINS OUT OF CONTROL
A YOUNG woman who claimed she was raped by a group of Bulldogs NRL players in Coffs Harbour has been allegedly sexually assaulted and stabbed.
A man allegedly sexually assaulted her inside her cottage in Grafton in northern NSW and stabbed her in the face last year.
Her alleged attacker was only a few weeks out on parole when the incident occurred. The woman was left with serious injuries and is expected to give evidence at her attacker’s trial in Sydney early next year. In June, another man bashed her over the head with a torch in Sandy Beach.
The two assaults were unrelated to the Bulldogs allegations but they punctuate a life affected by crime and drugs since the allegations were made against the Bulldogs.
The woman, who has never spoken publicly about the 2004 incident, still lives in the area around Coffs Harbour.
The downward spiral began in February, 2004, when the woman — then a single mother-of-one living at home with her family — alleged she had been the victim of the gang rape.
The woman, who had met the Bulldogs players at the Plantation Hotel, alleged she was sexually assaulted by six players around the pool of the Novotel Pacific Bay Resort on the morning of Sunday, February 22.
The players admitted to having consensual group sex at the hotel but on the previous Wednesday. A hotel worker gave a statement to police that he saw a woman having sex with a player in the pool in the early hours of Sunday morning but there were no other players there. Within 48 hours of the complaint being made police said they identified between 70 and 80 significant errors in the victim’s case after assessing her five statements.
“The inconsistencies were not just identified from one witness,” former Detective Sergeant Glen Pearce said this week. “We had statements from the players, the taxi driver, the hotel patrons. It was a whole jigsaw, maybe as many as 40 different witnesses are creating all these different inconsistencies in her version. And we couldn’t identify one inconsistency with what the Bulldog players had told us. They came across as overwhelming.” A friend who was at the hotel with the woman also told police the assault claim was fabricated.
The case was referred to the DPP, which confirmed there was insufficient evidence to lay sexual assault charges.
“I was embarrassed to take it to the DPP,” Mr Pearce said.
His views were at odds with former Detective Inspector Jason Breton, who oversaw the investigation and believed the woman had been sexually assaulted. Pearce, who left the force in 2005, has pushed for NSW Police to apologise to the Bulldogs for treating them “unreasonably and unfairly”.
Another detective said nine of 10 detectives based in the Coffs Harbour Police Station left in the wake of the scandal. “The Bulldogs case split the office in half, we lost unity,” he said. The woman’s family declined to comment when approached by The Sunday Telegraph last week.