Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 April 2014

Rodgers relieved after son cleared

Four footballers have been found not guilty of sexually assaulting a woman

Liverpool football manager Brendan Rodgers has spoken of his relief after his son Anton was cleared in a sex case involving a teenage girl.

Anton, 20, and three team mates from Brighton and Hove Albion football club were found not guilty of sexual assault and voyeurism. The retrial at the Old Bailey followed an earlier trial in which a jury could not agree verdicts.

Mr Rodgers said: "The last 18 months have been extremely traumatic for us as a family, but we are relieved that Anton's name has been cleared. I am also pleased for the other defendants and their families, that they can now get on with living their lives without these hurtful allegations hanging over them."

He thanked Liverpool FC and its fans for their support "through this distressing process". Mr Rodgers and his wife had sat through the two trials with the families of the other defendants.

Anton Rodgers, Lewis Dunk, 21, and George Barker, 21, and former team-mate Steve Cook, 22, who now plays for Bournemouth, had maintained their innocence. They broke down and were visibly shaken as they were consoled by their girlfriends and family outside the court.

Anton's solicitor Mark Haslam said: "We are delighted the jury has reached the correct verdict in this case. The last 18 months have been very stressful for Anton and his family, so it is a great relief that this long ordeal is finally over."

The prosecution said the players were celebrating victory in a local cup in July 2011, when they came across the drunken woman at a club. She woke up at the Jury's Inn hotel to find her strapless dress pulled down and said she saw explicit pictures on Rodgers' mobile phone. Richard Barton, prosecuting, said these were taken as a "permanent record of their conquest".

But despite forensic tests on all the players' phones, only one photograph was found on Barker's phone. It showed the sleeping woman with shaving foam spelling out GB on her thigh. Barker was next to her doing a thumbs-up sign and smiling. Another player, Leon Redwood, said he went into the room at night and sprayed the foam.

Barker and Rodgers said the woman had joined in the "boy's banter". She climbed into bed with them and started kissing them. Dunk and Cook said they were sleeping on the floor and did not get involved with the woman.

The woman was said to have "told a pack of lies" following the incident. She agreed she lied to police and her employers but said she had been humiliated by the sportsmen.

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