UK & World News
Footballers In Court Over Sex Assault Claims
A group of footballers took pictures of themselves sexually assaulting a drunken 19-year-old woman, the Old Bailey has heard.
The Brighton and Hove Albion players wanted to have "a permanent record of their conquest", jurors were told.
The four men took the young woman back to their hotel room and assaulted her after celebrating victory for their club in the Sussex Senior Cup, it was alleged.
Anton Rodgers, the 19-year-old son of Brendan Rodgers, manager of Liverpool FC, along with Lewis Dunk, 21, George Barker, 21, and former teammate Steve Cook, 21, who now plays for Bournemouth, all deny sexual assault.
They also deny voyeurism.
The offences are said to have happened at the Jury's Inn Hotel in Brighton in July 2011.
Giving evidence from behind a curtain, the alleged victim said she had visited four clubs that night but was not drunk despite drinking seven alcohol shots and sharing a bottle of beer.
In the final club, where footballers were, she had a sip of a soft drink but could not remember anything else until she woke up at 11am the next morning in the hotel room feeling drowsy.
The woman said she discovered the pictures after asking to use Rodgers' phone.
She said she woke up next to Rodgers, who was asleep in his underwear, adding: "I felt ashamed, embarrassed. I couldn't believe it had happened.
"I started shaking Anton. I was saying, 'Why did you do this? I thought you were a nice guy'.
"I was angry. I told him to delete them. He said he was not going to delete them. He was not at all concerned."
The woman said she missed work that day and her employer called police the next day when she said she had been attacked in the street by people she did not know.
She had not told the entire truth to her employer because she "could not face it", the court heard.
The woman said she reported the incident to police, naming the footballers, six months later after another player at the club hinted at putting the images on YouTube.
Richard Barton, prosecuting, said her reluctance to identify her attackers to police demonstrated she did not willingly take part to sell a "kiss and tell" story.
He said: "She is not a young woman who is a wannabe 'wag', but rather she was clearly mortified by what she subsequently found out had happened to her."
Mr Barton said: "This case concerns how a group of young professional footballers, intoxicated after a night out together celebrating a cup final victory, took advantage of a young woman, who herself was intoxicated and who was obviously in a vulnerable condition.
"After taking her back to a hotel room, they waited until she had fallen asleep, and so was unable to resist, and then sexually assaulted her in a deliberately humiliating way.
"Her dress was pulled up, exposing her body ...
"They compounded the humiliation by taking photographs of themselves doing so in order to have a permanent record of their conquest."
He added: "They did so for their own gratification, intending to share the photographs between themselves and they may have done so to share with others at their football club.
"These were the actions of a group of arrogant young men labouring under the misguided belief that, by reason of their privileged position, they could with impunity take advantage of a young woman in this way, because even if she realised what they had done to her, she would not dare report it."
He said the woman - described as chatty and bubbly - did not tell police for six months "through fear of repercussions".
She finally made a complaint after being "repeatedly taunted" about the incident by another footballer at the club.
The families of the accused, including Rodgers' father, were in the public gallery during Tuesday's hearing.
The case continues.
Hello, regular commenting on Orange News and Sport pages closes on Thursday 30 May 2013. We will continue to provide a commenting facility on major news and sport events on orangeworld.co.uk. Contact us via http://oran.ge/OWfeedback if you have any further questions. Thanks.