NRL knew player as­saulted a woman

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS - JES­SICA HAL­LO­RAN

THE NRL was aware that Bris­bane Bron­cos foot­baller Matthew Lodge pleaded guilty to as­sault­ing a woman be­fore they gave him the green light to play this sea­son.

Lodge slapped then-girl­friend Char­lene Sal­iba in an in­ci­dent at his house in Au­gust 2015, The Sun­day Tele­graph can re­veal.

Court doc­u­ments de­tail the in­ci­dent in the front of Lodge’s Maray­ong house where the 118kg foot­baller “lightly slapped” Sal­iba.

Lodge was ar­rested at his home at 8pm.

He was cau­tioned and Lodge said: “I never hit her, I only grabbed her.” Lodge was taken to Black­town Po­lice sta­tion where he de­clined to take part in an elec­tron­i­cally recorded in­ter­view.

A charge of com­mon as­sault was laid against the then Wests Tigers foot­baller. The foot­baller was sub­se­quently sacked by the Tigers club.

The mat­ter was pros­e­cuted in Par­ra­matta Lo­cal Court and Lodge was ini­tially found guilty with a con­vic­tion.

Lodge ap­pealed to the district court and was found guilty without con­vic­tion. He was placed on a two-year good be­hav­iour bond.

An NRL spokesman said the code was aware of the do­mes­tic vi­o­lence is­sue and had taken that into ac­count when reg­is­ter­ing Lodge.

Af­ter ap­pear­ing in court for as­sault­ing Ms Sal­iba in Septem­ber 2015, the next month Lodge wreaked ter­ror in New York, stalk­ing a Ger­man woman and vi­o­lently ter­ror­is­ing a fam­ily, which in­cluded a nine-year old boy.

This week the fam­ily de­tailed how their son Henry was still “heav­ily trau­ma­tised” by Lodge’s ac­tions.

A US civil court or­dered Lodge to pay $1.6 mil­lion in dam­ages. Lodge has not paid a cent and has “stunned” and “in­fu­ri­ated” his vic­tims.

“It’s pretty heart­break­ing to think that this man might be­come a role model for Aus­tralian chil­dren given what he did to us,” Ruth Fowler, Henry’s mother, said.

NRL chief ex­ec­u­tive Todd Green­berg and chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Nick Weeks met with Lodge last year and were sat­is­fied he met the code’s fit and proper per­son re­quire­ment.

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