Stripper speaks out, alleges Chiefs players inappropriately touched her
GRAPHIC CONTENT WARNING
The stripper at the centre of the Chiefs' Mad Monday celebrations alleges players touched her between her legs "very forcefully" and that she kicked a player to get him to stop.
The woman, whose performing name is Scarlette, has detailed in an interview with Newshub what she alleges happened after she was booked to waitress and perform a strip routine for the team when they held their end-of-season celebrations at the Okoroire hot pools, near Matamata, on Monday.
She alleged a number of players touched her inappropriately and outlined the problems she had with one, in particular. The allegations are being investigated by Chiefs management.
Scarlette said she had been paid $320 for the waitressing and the strip.
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"Afterwards they said, 'we want to do another one' because some of the boys missed it."
She said they could perform a sexual act on her for $50, she told Newshub.
"They all thought they were allowed. Four tried and succeeded."
She said she didn't know what to do and made a deal for one more player to perform an act on her.
"They were touching me between the legs very forcefully," she alleged.
"I was hit twice and then he grabbed my vagina to which I told him no, you don't do that. I pulled his hands away, he went straight back to doing it. I am well trained in martial arts and I kicked his head into the ground, put his head into a choke hold, kicked him in the genitals and said 'you don't touch me there please", she told Newshub.
She said she would not perform in group situations again.
Scarlette told Radio New Zealand the people at the function "closed in" around her at the start, which made her feel quite intimidated.
She had gravel and alcohol thrown at her during her performance, she alleged.
"I was intimidated and scared."
SPONSORS STICK BY TEAM
Chiefs sponsors are sticking by their team amid the allegations against them.
Major sponsor Gallagher Group on Thursday offered little sympathy for the stripper.
Corporate services executive Margaret Comer said: "If a woman takes her clothes off and walks around in a group of men, what are we supposed to do if one of them tries to touch her."
"It's not nice and perhaps the stripper shouldn't have been hired, but I'm reluctant to say that the boys were out of line."
Comer said hiring the stripper for end of season celebrations at the Okoroire hot pools in the Waikato was a "stupid damn thing to do".
She said a gay slur from lock Michael Allardice shouldn't have happened, but was dealt with "quite appropriately" by Chiefs management.
Comer is a trustee on the board of Waikato Women's Refuge.
In a tweet Women's Refuge NZ said it was not affiliated with Waikato Women's Refuge.
Waikato Refuge is not an affiliated refuge of ours. The comments made are disappointing and don't represent or reflect our kaupapa. 😔 #Shame— Women's Refuge NZ (@womensrefugenz) August 4, 2016
Chief executive for fellow sponsor Generation Homes, Kevin Atkinson, said he was disappointed by the behaviour of players.
"Obviously, it's disappointing when young men go a little bit out of line but my preference is that we just wait and see till the whole facts come out."
He was confident, however, the Chiefs' values were in the right place and management would address the issue.
"I don't think one slip up is an indication their values are wrong," he said.
"They are a pretty good outfit. We are not going to knee-jerk in terms of any relationship we have with the Chiefs."
Nice one Margaret Comer, way to undo how far we've come. Stripper or not, harassment is harassment #chiefs— Matilda Rice (@MatildaRice) August 4, 2016
HANSEN HITS OUT OVER MAD MONDAY
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said it was time to "kick Mad Mondays into touch".
Hansen, who was in Auckland for a two-day camp with some members of his All Blacks squad, made it clear he was not happy with the fallout from the goings-on with the Chiefs.
"I don't have a view [on it] but you want me to make a comment so what I'd say is this: I don't know if it's true or not true, I wasn't there," Hansen said.
"But if it's true then it's disappointing, and if it's not true it's also disappointing because a whole lot of things are coming out of this which aren't great for rugby and the Chiefs."
Hansen continued, saying: "The one thing I do know though is there is a massive lesson about 'Mad Mondays' − just kick 'em for touch. You don't need them."
Hansen was asked whether it was appropriate for a team like the Chiefs to have a stripper at their end-of-season function.
"I think I've already said that, get rid of them," he added in reference to the traditional post-season team get-togethers in the football codes.
He was also asked if he was confident about the culture in the All Blacks in respect to certain standards of behaviour.
"I'm very, very confident our All Black culture is up to scratch," he added.
"I've given [the players] a reminder that there's a certain way to behave."
Mad Monday was a term coined in Australia for professional sports teams' end of season celebrations.
ALL BLACKS HUSH
Chiefs franchise boss Andrew Flexman on Thursday shut down a brief press conference on the stripper scandal when asked about the identity of players involved, and whether they were All Blacks.
Flexman gave no answer to the question of All Blacks as he revealed his disappointment at the team ending their season amid scandal.
"Some really serious allegations have surfaced about some conduct in respect to our players and we are taking as an organisation those allegations extremely seriously," Flexman said.
"It'd be fair to say that we are really, really disappointed in the actions of our players in engaging the services of a performer to attend an after, or a post season celebration."
Asked whether senior players, including All Blacks, were involved, Flexman said: "Look we don't know yet. We haven't, as I say, there's still plenty of, I mean, there's varying versions of events.
"We have not yet conducted the investigation. So the answer to that question I do not know yet who's involved, and I should say allegedly involved. So the answer to that question is I'm just not in a position to comment."
Flexman said "to the best of my knowledge" it was not normal for strippers to be hired by the Chiefs.
'IT'S AN EYE OPENER'
In Brisbane for the launch of the Brisbane Global 10s, Chiefs centre Charles Ngatai defended his team's culture.
Ngatai, who has spent two months out of rugby with concussion, did not celebrate with his teammates, but said the furore had hit the team hard.
"It's been a tough week, the boys are down," he said.
"But I guess it's done and we have to move forward and stick together. I guess it's an eye opener to other teams that you can't act that way or you'll be found out."
Ngatai said he was shocked at the fall-out from both incidents.
"We never knew it was going to come out this bad," he said.
"Most teams have Mad Mondays ... We don't condone that stuff in this squad and, moving forward, we don't want it to happen again."
A SACKABLE OFFENCE
The scandal was a serious one for the Chiefs with players facing the sack if allegations they inappropriately touched the stripper were proven.
On Wednesday night, Flexman denied the allegations about the way players had treated the stripper, saying independent witnesses would confirm his stance.
Flexman would not say who the witnesses were and when confronted with the allegations that players had taunted 'Scarlette', including pouring beer on her, he said the "stakes were high" telling Stuff he had been talking to a QC.
The consequences for the players involved could be career-ending with each contracted to the New Zealand Rugby Union.
"There's all sorts of sanctions that are open to the employer to take based on substantiated facts as a result of an investigation and that could include termination of one's employment," Flexman said.
"That's only one of many sanctions that could apply in the terms of the collective. For me to preempt what's an appropriate outcome is premature."
New Zealand Rugby chief strategy and operations officer Nigel Cass said they were assisting the Chiefs in their investigation.
"The first thing to say is they are very serious allegations and we treat them with deference they need. Our role is to assist the Chiefs to ensure they undertake a full investigation so we can get to understand just what has happened," Cass said.
"Rugby in New Zealand is central to our society and this type of allegation cuts right to the core of that."
PRO SPORTSMAN RESPONSIBILITIES
New Zealand Rugby Players' Association chief executive Rob Nichol said end-of-season celebrations were no excuse for players to forget about their responsibilities as professional sportsmen.
"It's not a good look for rugby, it's not a good look for the Chiefs and it's not a good look for the players," Nichol said.
"We need to establish the facts and then do the best we can to put things right. We've been here before and what has happened has happened, the way in which ultimately we get judged now is how you deal with it. That's the key and that needs to be dealt with correctly."
Nicol added: "Rugby players are like other people but they do have a greater level of accountability and responsibility placed on them which they need to embrace and learn to deal with if they want to stay as part of that environment. If others feel disappointed these guys will be even more disappointed that the situation has got to where it has."
RUGBY'S SOUR HISTORY
Auckland University associate professor Richard Pringle said rugby culture has a long history of alcohol use, homophobia and objectification of women.
And the environment created at Chiefs' Mad Monday celebrations - a fratriarchy, a fusion of 'patriarchy' and 'fraternity' - is ruled by the brotherhood.
Pringle studied rugby's influence on masculinity and gender.
"It's a sort of competitive masculine environment and people perform masculinity in a certain way to gain acceptance and status and the way to gain status in a fratriarchy is to prove that you are masculine," Pringle said.
"It's not just rugby but in these sorts of environments, the way to prove you are masculine is how much beer you can consume, to demonstrate your heterosexuality by grabbing a stripper or taunting gay guys."
He said there is a lot of evidence to suggest cultural history plays a part in current behaviour, but that had been changing since the late 1980s and early 1990s.
"Probably ten years ago, it wouldn't have reached the media. There has been a shift in western cultures realising the problems with homophobia."