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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Koch says AFL railroaded Powell-Pepper

Port Adelaide president David Koch has blasted the AFL over the Sam Powell-Pepper investigation, saying the player had been railroaded.
Koch also says Powell-Pepper is a victim as the AFL attempts to rebuild its reputation with women after the resignations of key league executives Simon Lethlean and Richard Simkiss.
The midfielder had already sat out two games while the investigation into his drunken nightclub incident ran its course.
Powell-Pepper also apologised on Thursday, saying claims of sexual assault hit him hard.
On Wednesday, the AFL announced Powell-Pepper would be suspended for three matches, ruling him out of Saturday's clash with North Melbourne.
The AFL said Powell-Pepper "engaged in inappropriate behaviour that is unbecoming for an AFL player by being intoxicated in a public place and by making inappropriate contact with a female".
Koch accused the head of the AFL integrity unit of not looking at all video relating to the incident, although Power CEO Keith Thomas said later in the day the league had viewed the footage.
"The whole respect and responsibility policy leaves the clubs in the dark. They take complete control. I issued them a grievance notice before they would start talking sense," Koch said in a statement to Triple M radio.
"My biggest issue was they are railroading a kid and trying to rebuild their reputation with women because of the misdemeanours of their own former executives.
"In Sam Powell-Pepper's case, a woman anonymously made these claims, did not press charges with police - which we were happy for her to do. We have vision of the entire night and the head of the integrity unit refused to see it.
"I'm putting it on the agenda at the next presidents' meeting."
Last year, Lethlean and Simkiss resigned because of affairs with junior colleagues.
Thomas refused to publicly release video footage of the nightclub incident involving Powell-Pepper, while insisting it showed "a huge discrepancy" between media reports and what actually occurred.
"That touching was a long, long way away from sexual assault," Thomas said on Thursday.
Thomas criticised the initial reporting of the incident by the Seven Network, where Koch coincidentally works as a presenter.
"It is very, very disappointing. It created a environment with difficulty to achieve fairness," he said.
Thomas said any accusation of sexual assault "can leave a stain on someone's life forever".
"We think this has been way overplayed."
Powell-Pepper also apologised to the woman who made the complaint.
"I've let my team and my club down, so I can't be sorry enough," Powell-Pepper told the Nine Network.
"I've made her feel uncomfortable and I'm very sorry for that.
"When those first claims were brought up, it really hit me hard because I'm not that type of person."
Collingwood president Eddie McGuire said there was a broader issue of growing discontent among the clubs about how the AFL treated them.
"The clubs are getting sick of getting treated like franchises," McGuire told Triple M.