Andrew Lovett, the girl and a story
Published in the Herald Sun September 2006
In the the Herald Sun (Tues 22 August 2006) sports journalist
Mark Robinson took us into the private world of the brilliant, indigenous
AFL footballer Andrew Lovett. Sensitive and thoughtful, the story
was yet another reminder that everyone, including AFL footballers,
has a personal cross to bear. A sexual assault of someone close
and the death of his father had, said Robinson taken Lovett down
a path of depression and excess drinking, which the Essendon Football
Club was desperate to address.
Most readers probably didn't blink when the young Bomber
said a much-publicised incident and subsequent intervention order
involving an unnamed former girlfriend earlier in the year 'had
been blown out of proportion'. When the girl in question read those
words her heart sank. There were no witnesses to corroborate Kimberlie
Watson's version of what happened in Lovett's Monaro around 3 am
on Sunday 5 February 2006, after she told him their relationship
of 10 months was over. So traumatic were the next 45 minutes it
was a distraught Watson that rang the police, who upon witnessing
her appearance and hearing her story said they should 'go and arrest'
Faced with these stark consequences 23-year-old Ms Watson reacted
like many women in so-called 'domestic disturbances. 'His dad is
dying. I don't want this in the media. I don't want to hurt his
family or ruin his career. He's never hit me before,' she told police.
Eventually it was agreed that in accordance with police guidelines
they would summon him to police headquarters for a 'talking to'.
Lovett, who waited outside while a club representative spoke to
police, could so easily have put the whole episode behind him.
There'd have been no story and no intervention order, and Lovett
would not have had to bare his soul in the Herald Sun if he'd just
moved on. A text message six weeks after the 'incident' saying 'I'm
a special person. I could probably get away with murder, haha. Or
is that a bad joke?' suggested he hadn't moved on. An unscheduled
visit to her place of work a week later was the last straw. She
now believed the only option was an intervention order.
In the Melbourne Magistrate's Court on 6 April 2006 Ms Watson tabled
a stream of intimidating text messages and swore under oath that
she had been assaulted during the 45 minutes she claims to have
been trapped in Lovett's car in February. Lovett was not represented
and did not appear, to challenge the allegations, which in legal
terms means he made no admissions. Although Watson requested a 12-month
intervention order the magistrate was sufficiently concerned to
order Lovett to stay away from his ex-girlfriend for two years.
Kimberlie Watson is neither vengeful nor vindictive. After all,
it was she who ended the relationship, pleaded with the police not
to charge Lovett and readily admits he 'was an emotional mess' in
the months leading up to the incident. However, as much as she wants
to commend the club and Lovett for talking openly about his problems
with depression and alcohol she believes he should have at least
accepted that what he did that night in the car was wrong.
Despite Sam Newman's crude and clumsy attempt at humour on Nine's
Footy Show, where he said the alleged assault 'could have been an
advanced form of foreplay' Ms Watson is remarkably forgiving. 'I've
forgiven Andrew but I've not forgotten the way women are treated.
I just want people to accept that violence against women is wrong
and has to stop,' she says. One can only imagine how some of our
forthright AFL coaches might have reacted if it had been their daughter
about whom Newman was talking.
Not once in the Herald Sun article did Andrew Lovett raise the
possibility that what he did that night was wrong. Two years ago
AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou called on any woman who'd been assaulted
by an AFL footballer to come forward. Some club presidents were
unimpressed, saying it sounded like a witch-hunt. Kimberlie Watson
is not engaged in a witch-hunt, nor is she seeking her 15 minutes
of fame. She is a modern girl who can't and won't accept that it's
a woman's lot to be treated like this. In any case, had it not been
for the words 'blown out of proportion' in the Lovett story she'd
have put the whole matter behind her.
The days of women believing they are to blame whenever men mess
up are rapidly passing. Andrew Lovett is entitled to get on with
his life without one 'incident' haunting him forever. However, if
it was blown out of proportion, how about him explaining what he
means? And if Ms Watson was lying about the assault, then why didn't
Lovett tell the court that? Isn't that the question we should all