GAA star McNally in Vegas stag trip nightmare over 'completely untrue' sex assault claim
A dream trip to Las Vegas turned into a nightmare when a GAA star was locked up for three weeks after being accused of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl - a charge that he vehemently denies.
Tyrone inter-county player Dean McNally (26), from Kildress, had gone to the gambling mecca with pals for a stag party.
But the fun came to an abrupt end on their first day when, in a crowded street, he encountered a person dressed up as a bear.
"There was someone in a bear costume standing with their back to us," he told Sunday World.
"I had no idea if it was a man or a woman.
"It was busy and I put my hand on their back and said: 'What's the craic?'
"They turned round, but all you could see were the eyes through the costume.
"Next thing I know this big man is jumping on my back and then throwing me across the pavement.
"I thought he must have been on drugs or something.
"He was going crazy and was shouting: 'You sexually assaulted my daughter'.
"I had no idea what he was talking about and it took five minutes for me to realise his daughter was in the bear costume.
"I tried telling him it was a mistake, but he couldn't be calmed down."
The girl's father phoned the Las Vegas police, with the result that Mr McNally was arrested and thrown into Clark County Detention Centre for four days, sharing a cell with prostitutes and drug pushers, until his first court appearance
He learned that the district attorney was pushing for a 10-year sentence.
"That's when I knew I was in serious trouble," he told the newspaper.
"Up until that point all I had been worried about was keeping my job - now I was worried about my whole life."
Family members flew to Vegas to support him, and began to plan the legal battle to clear his name.
But his lawyer arranged a deal by which, if he accepted a lesser charge of simple battery, he would be released instead of spending up to two years behind bars waiting for his case to come to trial.
"I had no choice but to accept," he said.
"I stood in court and watched as this judge held my life in her hands.
"She could have rejected the deal and made me stand trial."
Now back home in Tyrone, he added: "It's been a complete nightmare.
"They accused me of touching the bum of a 12-year-old girl while walking down the street. It was completely untrue."
The physiotherapist, who is due to be married next year, said: "I want to put this behind me, and I want to start work again.
"And I want to thank all the people who supported me, they have been crazy good with the support - and it means so much."