Port Adelaide lashes Channel Seven over Powell-Pepper nightclub incident coverage
The Port Adelaide football club has condemned Channel Seven over its reporting of a nightclub incident involving Sam Powell-Pepper, but has refused to comment further on how the Power midfielder inappropriately touched the woman at the centre of the saga.
The AFL yesterday banned Powell-Pepper for a third consecutive game over the incident, which occurred about 3:00am at CBD venue Mr Kim's on April 8.
After an investigation by its integrity unit, the league concluded that Powell-Pepper was drunk at the time and had made "inappropriate contact" with a young woman.
Today, Power chief executive Keith Thomas defended the club's handling of the incident.
"We took the woman's complaint very seriously from the moment we were notified," he said.
"[General manager Chris Davies] made immediate contact with her and made available to her support contacts at the AFL, which is standard procedure. We notified the AFL immediately."
The story was initially broken by Channel Seven, in a tweet stating that the club was investigating "claims a player sexually assaulted a young woman".
"We think that this has been way overplayed," Mr Thomas said.
"We believe that Channel Seven Adelaide set the tone for the investigation and we'll be discussing that with them."
He said that, after both Mr Davies and the AFL integrity unit viewed footage from inside the venue, the club was satisfied what had occurred was a "long way away from sexual assault".
"We viewed seven hours of video from every angle," he said.
"'Inappropriate touching' is a matter of personal opinion and it's subjective, and I don't know that it's respectful to delve into that."
Power keeps legal option on the table
Mr Thomas refused to make the footage public or describe what it showed, prompting the following exchange with Channel Seven journalist Mike Smithson:
Q: "Keith, how do you describe the inappropriate contact then? From what you've seen — you said you've seen the video. What was on it?"
A: "It's in the eye of the beholder."
Q: "The woman seems to think it was a very definite inappropriate [contact], of a sexual nature."
A: "We don't believe that that's the case and the findings…"
Q: "So she's lying is she?"
A: "No, no. The findings have demonstrated that. I lean on the fact that the issue was not reported to the police either by her or the AFL integrity unit and they are duty bound to do that if they find a sexual assault has occurred."
Q: "Tell us what was on the video because we have asked to see it and neither you nor the establishment will provide it. What did you see?"
A: "I think that that would be inappropriate."
Mr Thomas lambasted Channel Seven's report and, when asked about potential legal action against the network, left the option on the table.
"We would reserve all of our rights in this case," he said.
"The reporting from that moment throughout the 16-day investigation was about sexual assault [and] groping.
"A charge like that can leave a stain on someone's reputation and life forever."
The Power's chairman is Channel Seven presenter and businessman David Koch.
Asked whether that put the club in a difficult position, Thomas said: "It's not awkward. I have spoken to David and David's very aware of what we're trying to do".