Brighton: Footballers cleared of sexual assault as woman lied about being drugged at gay pride

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Four Brighton footballers have been cleared of sexual assaulting a 19-year-old woman in a hotel room, as it was found that she had lied about several details, including that she had attended a gay pride event, and was drugged.

Brighton and Hove Albion players Anton Rodgers, 20, Lewis Dunk, 21, George Barker, 21, and former team-mate Steve Cook, 22, were cleared at the Old Bailey, after having maintained that they were innocent.

They were falsely accused of sexually assaulting the woman, who said she found herself at the Jury’s Inn hotel, after having celebrated the team’s victory in a local cup in July 2011.

She said she woke up to find her dress had been pulled down, and said that she saw explicit pictures on Mr Rodgers’ phone.

Forensic tests found only one photograph was found on any of the players’ phones. Mr Barker’s phone contained one image of the sleeping woman with the word GB spelled out in shaving foam on her thigh. Mr Barker was next to her, doing a thumbs up sign, and smiling.

Leon Redwood, another player had admitted that he had entered the room and sprayed the foam. Mr Barker and Rodgers said she had climbed into bed with the players, and had been kissing them.

The woman admitted that she had lied about several details to do with the case, including a month later, when she missed work, and told her employers that she was at a gay pride celebration, and said that she had been drugged.

Earlier on the day of the alleged incident, she also missed work, and said she her father had been involved in a traffic accident, and when she missed work the following day she said she had been assaulted in the street by three men named Jack, Ben and Sam.

Later in the case she produced a black dress, rather than the pink dress she was actually wearing.

She admitted that she had lied to police, and to her employers, but said that she had been humiliated by the players.

The woman had made the complaint six months after that night, after she got into a relationship with another player Kazenga LuaLua, who joked to her that photographs had been shown around the club, and said a video would be put up on YouTube.

Police found no evidence that anyone at the club had seen any pictures of the woman.

She also said she was sober, but that she could remember nothing after taking a drink in the club. and that she remembered everything that night, but a friend of hers said they had each drunk between 10 and 15 shots of alcohol, and shared a bottle of wine.

The Associated Press reports that the men were visibly shaken, as the not-guilty verdict was delivered, that they were comforted by their families, and gathered outside in a group hug.