4 Aug 2016

'If someone is saying no to you, it means no'

9:24 pm on 4 August 2016

The stripper who says members of the Chiefs rugby team touched her inappropriately at a party on Monday says she had to slam a man's head into the ground to "enforce that I meant no".

The Chiefs have launched an investigation into allegations players behaved inappropriately toward the woman at their end-of-season celebration.

The woman - who would only be named as Scarlette - said she had made a choice to be a stripper but it did not define her, and that she was also a beekeeper and a mother.

She said some of the players were "beyond drunk" when she arrived for the performance in the garden bar at the Ōkoroire hot pools, near Matamata, and they also threw gravel and chanted lewdly at her.

She told Checkpoint with John Campbell she felt forced to fight back when touched inappropriately.

"As I would go towards each one, there was one guy who I repeatedly told to stop touching me, I hit him in the genitals, in the face, and proceeded to slam his head into the ground, to enforce that I meant no.

"It's sexual abuse, basically. If someone is saying no to you, it means no, regardless of whether you're a sex worker or not. It's not acceptable to rape a prostitute, so why is it acceptable to touch a stripper?"

Scarlette said she thought about going to the police, but she had found them difficult in the past when she complained.

Meanwhile, a major sponsor of the Chiefs has said the woman opened herself up to bad behaviour when she chose to take her clothes off in a room of young men.

Waikato company Gallagher has its name across the Chiefs jersey. Its corporate services executive, Margaret Comer, said the allegations were not in keeping with the company's ethics and values.

But she said the stripper also needed to take responsibility for her actions.

"Don't take your clothes off, stand in a room of young 20-25-year-old men and not expect something to be annoying, because you've said no."

Ms Comer said she was trying to find out exactly what happened and was meeting with the Chiefs board.

Ms Comer is also a trustee of Waikato's Women's Refuge Te Whakaruruhau, which is not affiliated to the national body.

But Women's Refuge New Zealand said Ms Comer's comments were shameful and disappointing, and did not reflect its kaupapa.

Chief executive Dr Ang Jury told Checkpoint with John Campbell that being hired to take your clothes was "not a licence to touch".

"It's simply not good enough.

"We need to just knock this sort of stuff on the head, and leave it in the past where it belongs. There's just no place for it anymore."

Okoroire Hot Springs Hotel manager Cushla Wood said the men were not badly behaved or too drunk.

Ms Wood said she left an hour before the stripper arrived but the players had been polite and courteous.

"They were loud and yahooing and laughing and trying to sing, but no, there wasn't anybody that was specifically drunk-drunk, or anything like that that I saw. Anybody who was getting loud, one of the older guys took them out."

Chiefs launch investigation

Speaking at a media conference this afternoon, Chiefs chief executive Andrew Flexman said the club was taking the allegations "extremely seriously".

He said he was disappointed that a "performer" had been hired for the night, and said it was not usual practice at his team's celebrations "to the best of my knowledge".

Mr Flexman also apologised for earlier comments he had made, saying the woman's "standing in the community and culpability is not beyond reproach".

He said in retrospect he probably regretted the way that was expressed.

"As a person and the values I have, given the vocation that this particular woman is involved in, do I cast aspersions on her as a person as a result of that vocation? That's simply not what I believe in."

Mr Flexman said both the Chiefs and New Zealand Rugby were carrying out investigations.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said he would be very disappointed if the allegations were true.

He said players should not be having "Mad Mondays" any more, but it was not up to him to make that decision.

The stripper was hired on the same evening that Chiefs player Michael Allardice made a homophobic comment that a man and his partner believe was directed at them. Allardice has apologised but said he was directing the comment in jest at a team mate.

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