Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
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Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Home : AFL Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

 

 

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' Lovett

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 be asking?

Phil Cleary

 

 

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