Woman tells of Matthew Johns incident

THE New Zealand woman at the centre of the Matthew Johns group sex scandal identified the former Cronulla Sharks star at the time.Johns went public on The Footy Show this week over his involvement in the 2002 incident during the team's pre-season stay in Christchurch.The woman, then 19 and a staff member of the Racecourse Hotel in Riccarton, alleged serious sexual misconduct by members of the Sharks team on the night of Friday, February 15. The players were staying at the hotel.After an investigation on both sides of the Tasman, Christchurch police said they would not lay charges against any Sharks player.The Christchurch Press interviewed the woman after that announcement.Of the players with whom she had sex, the woman said: "It was with two of them. I wasn't friends with them, but I was friendly with them the night before."Were they quite well-known? "Yup. Matthew Johns is quite well-known." Was he one of the two players? "Yes."On legal advice, The Press did not publish any of the interview at the time.The paper understands she also talked to police about Johns's involvement.Johns broke his silence this week after being approached by ABC TV's Four Corners program, which on Monday night will explore the issue of footballers behaving badly after the sexual-assault charge against Manly star Brett Stewart.Four Corners interviewed the Christchurch woman recently, with her identity disguised.She said she had suffered psychologically as a result of the incident, which she described as degrading.Johns, now employed by the Nine Network as a rugby league expert and frontman for the NRL's membership drive, said on Thursday night's The Footy Show: "I am very sorry for all the trauma and embarrassment this has caused for everyone, but particularly for my family." Johns said he had consensual sex with the woman and he was upset, particularly for his children, that the woman was making the claims again."It took us a long time to get through it and it pains me that they have to go through it again," he said."Police investigated the situation, the allegations, and there were no charges laid. This has been a cause of major embarrassment for a lot of people."In her interview with The Press, the woman said she talked to some of the players when she was a waitress-kitchen hand at the Racecourse Hotel.She bumped into the players at the Holy Grail in central Christchurch on the Thursday night (the night before the incident) and had drinks with them. They wanted her to go back to the hotel with her that night, "but I didn't because I've got a boyfriend and I'm not dirty".On the Friday, two players waited for her to finish work."I kind of wanted to leave, but they said come back to our room for a talk or whatever. I walked behind them because I kind of didn't want to go back. But I didn't think anything bad would happen," she said.The woman said the incident lasted a couple of hours and there were other girls in other rooms, but she believed them to be prostitutes."I'm quite young [19]. When I went in there I was wearing a blue T-shirt and black three-quarter pants. I wasn't all slutted up in, like, tights or whatever," she said."I was just stunned and shocked. I didn't help them do anything."The woman said she had been told by police that the Sharks players were arguing it was consensual."If it was consented, they did nothing wrong. It was morally wrong, but not criminally wrong if I consented. It's all of them saying it was consented, against me," she said. Detective Senior Sergeant Dave Long said yesterday there was no reason to reopen the file. The Christchurch Press

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