Thurston breaks 14-year silence on Bulldogs gang rape scandal
NRL legend Johnathan Thurston has broken his teammates’ 14-year silence, speaking out on the Canterbury Bulldogs gang rape scandal.
In an exclusive interview with 60 Minutes reporter Allison Langdon, Thurston was adamant the events that tarnished the Bulldogs’ name were “consensual” and said they still affect him to this day.
“Speaking about it is quite difficult knowing that my daughters will probably see this when they're older - and having to sit down and explain to them what is my side of this story is going to be tough,” Thurston said.
The allegations date back to 2004, when a 20-year-old woman claimed she had been gang raped by six Bulldogs players at a resort at Coffs Harbour on the NSW Mid North Coast.
A police investigation found there was insufficient evidence and no charges were laid against the players, however in the eyes of the public the players received villain status and bore the brunt of harsh scrutiny for months.
The Bulldogs team made a pact to never speak about the incident, but now a chastened Thurston told 60 Minutes it’s time to set the record straight.
Admitting an incidence of group sex had taken place involving team mates and a local woman, Thurston says the encounter was consensual.
“It was very serious allegations,” Thurston said.
“I wasn't a part of (the group sex) but certainly we had broken team rules.
“Everyone was tarnished with these allegations.
“It was a traumatic time for everyone - obviously the victim at the time and certainly the club at the time as well.”
Thurston had joined the Bulldogs just two years prior, with the year 2002 marking his first break in the rugby league world.
And while he told Langdon he is forever grateful for the incredible career his time at the Bulldogs yielded, he does have one regret.
“I wish we could have come out and cleared our names straight away because everything was consensual at the time,” he said of the gang rape allegations.
When Langdon questioned the team’s silence, and why they had never defended the serious crime, Thurston said they had been gagged.
“That's the advice that we had been given,” he said.
“We believe - still to this day - we had done nothing wrong and it was just an unfortunate event that had occurred.
“Even though they're serious allegations, everyone involved at the club knew that we were not guilty of anything.
“It was tough for everyone because we were gagged and we couldn't give our side of the story.”
To watch ‘The Champion’ in full, and for more on 60 Minutes, head to the official website.