Former AFL player Andrew Lovett has been nominated for The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame following a string of off-field scandals, including an accusation of rape.
The Frownlow Medal is awarded to the player whose off-field demeanour epitomises the values of the modern-day footballer and draws attention to the status of footballers as role models to young Australians. It covers Australia’s four major football codes; the National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), the A-League (Football) and Rugby Union’s Super Rugby competition. NRL player Shaun Kenny-Dowall won the inaugural medal in 2015, while Jarryd Hayne is the most recent recipient.
The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame honours former players and players who received media attention in previous seasons, for similarly scandalous behaviour, and its inductees include Ben Cousins and Julian O’Neill.
Lovett was accused of raping women during a drunken house party in 2009. During the party, a fellow St Kilda player reportedly asked Lovett:
What the f–k is going on with this chick crying at the front door?…Did you chop her?
During the highly-publicised court case, the jury heard that Lovett met the girl at the apartment of teammate Jason Gram and had sex with her after drinking at a pub earlier that night. Lovett maintained that the sex was consensual but the woman argued that it was not.
A friend who was at the apartment claims the alleged victim was too drunk to move, and that she had placed her on the bed in Gram’s room to sober up.
Following the trial, it was discovered that the same night Lovett went home and had sex with a second woman.
The allegations led St Kilda to suspend Lovett indefinitely but he was later acquitted of the charges in 2011.
This was not Lovett’s only contact with the police during his playing career. In 2005 he was charged with driving without a licence and being drunk in public, and in 2006 he was accused of locking his ex-girlfriend in his car and repeatedly beating her.
The allegations of rape at the party involving a number of St Kilda players drew an official statement from the AFL at the time.
Adrian Anderson, the AFL’s general manager of football operations at the time, claimed players now have a much higher level of understanding of their personal responsibilities and accountabilities and around the issue of consent in their dealings with women.
“[There’s] a far greater understanding of their obligation not to be a bystander and if they notice things going wrong, to take steps to intervene and a greater understanding of the dangers inherent in combining alcohol, drugs and sex,” he said, “and a far greater understanding of the societal issue of violence against women.”
Other groups also commented on the incident and its implications, including Carolyn Worth from Centres Against Sexual Assault, who said:
“The footballers need to be clear about their status as role models for young men and women…”