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Australia fullback charged with sexual assault

Australia fullback charged with sexual assault

Australia fullback Brett Stewart has been charged with the sexual assault of a teenage girl after a National Rugby League club launch.
Stewart, who plays for NRL and World Club champion Manly, reportedly met the 17-year-old girl outside his apartment complex following a club launch last Friday before the alleged assault occurred.
He was charged after attending a police station in northern Sydney on Tuesday with his lawyer and with Manly coach Des Hasler.
Stewart, who represented Australia at the rugby league World Cup last year, was granted bail to appear at Manly Local Court on April 7.
The club insisted until Wednesday morning that Stewart would play in Manly's season-opening NRL match against Canterbury on Saturday night, but the NRL intervened.
NRL chief executive David Gallop said Stewart had been suspended for a code of conduct breach until the fifth round of competition _ which is subsequent to the court appearance _ after Manly's decision attracted stinging criticism led by federal Sports Minister Kate Ellis and New South Wales state Premier Nathan Rees.
The NRL also fined Manly 100,000 Australian dollars ($65,000) for alcohol-related incidents following the club function, including the charges against Stewart and an allegation that Australia backrower Anthony Watmough slapped a club sponsor.
Stewart had been the face of the league's 2009 season marketing campaign, which has had to be reworked.
"Brett could not have been in a more high profile position of trust for the game on the eve of a season than he was last week and we believe he should have recognized the honor that he was given and the responsibility that went with it," Gallop said. "By any estimation there was an abuse of alcohol in the aftermath of a club function that has led in some parts to the game being placed under enormous pressure.
"The players and the clubs need to know that we are not going to accept that.
"The Manly club has today delivered its report into the function and the measures simply weren't sufficient to stop drinking getting out of hand in the case of some of the players."
The player and the club can appeal to the NRL Appeals Committee.