Australian Rugby Player Beale Cleared Of Sexual Assault

The legal proceedings surrounding the alleged sexual assault involving Australian rugby player Kurtley Beale have concluded with a verdict of not guilty in a Sydney pub restroom.

Prosecutors alleged that he had groped a 29-year-old woman and subsequently coerced her into oral sex in December 2022. However, the 34-year-old Wallabies sensation asserted that their encounter was consensual. His legal team contended that the woman had fabricated the accusations to gain sympathy from her fiancé.

After a comprehensive two-week trial, a jury has exonerated Mr. Beale of three charges. This decision sets the stage for Mr. Beale, who faced suspension by Rugby Australia upon being charged, to make a comeback in the sporting arena.

Outside court, Mr Beale said he had always maintained his innocence: “My family and I have suffered a terrible year, and I’m so glad that the truth has come out.”

The proceedings in the New South Wales District Court revealed that, both having consumed alcohol, he and the complainant crossed paths during a night out at the Beach Road Hotel in Bondi suburb.

The jury was shown CCTV footage that, as per prosecutors, captured the moment Mr. Beale placed his hand on the woman’s bottom. Later segments of the footage displayed them entering and leaving the men’s bathroom.

In her testimony, the woman, who is legally safeguarded from being named, claimed that Mr. Beale had barged into her toilet cubicle and forced himself on her.

She told the court she had repeatedly said “no”, and told Mr Beale “you’re married, I’m engaged, we can’t”.

A month later, in a police-recorded phone conversation, the woman confronted Mr. Beale, who offered multiple apologies and admitted to possibly misjudging the entire scenario. Another recorded call with his manager, obtained by the police, captured him acknowledging that he had “messed up.”

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Prosecutors, in their case summary, argued that Mr. Beale had been “reckless” regarding whether the woman consented to his actions. In response, Mr. Beale’s legal team maintained that the incident in the toilet stall was consensual and initiated by the complainant.

Contrary to the woman’s initial claim that Mr. Beale followed her into the bathroom, CCTV footage showed she entered second, according to statements from his barrister Margaret Cunneen. Witnesses in the men’s bathroom reported hearing what seemed like a sex act but mentioned no distress or protestations from the complainant, as detailed in court.

Ms. Cunneen argued that Mr. Beale had never indicated that he knew the woman had not consented. In fact, he had conveyed to his manager that he believed she had.

“I don’t shrink from suggesting that [the complainant] is a manipulative woman who curated circumstances of the night to turn the tables, to turn herself into a victim,” she said.

Last January, Rugby Australia released a statement announcing the immediate suspension of full-back Beale from all forms of rugby, citing a breach of its code of conduct.

The organization also stated its intention to conduct its own investigations. Beale, with 95 appearances for his country, had returned to Australia in 2022 after a stint with the French team Racing 92 to join the New South Wales Waratahs.

Africa Today News, New York 

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