Woman cries as ex-NRL player cleared of groping claim

Belad Al-karkhey |

Former NRL player George Burgess has been found not guilty of groping a woman.
Former NRL player George Burgess has been found not guilty of groping a woman.

Former NRL star George Burgess has been cleared of allegations that he groped a woman during a visit to her home despite admitting he had wanted to “be naughty” with her.

The 32-year-old was found not guilty on Friday on one charge of sexually touching the woman without consent over an incident in March 2022.

The woman, who cannot be legally named, claimed the rugby league player touched her buttocks and made suggestive comments about her “juicy arse”.

George Burgess (right, file image)
Burgess appeared in court via a live-stream as a magistrate acquitted him of the charge. (Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS)

Burgess had visited the woman’s home to give her a signed St George Illawarra jersey, Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court was earlier told.

He denied trying to kiss or have sex with the woman, who he had known for more than 10 years, although he admitted he wanted to “hit (her) up to be intimate”.

Burgess was not in court in person, instead appearing via a live-stream as Magistrate Emma Manea acquitted him of the charge.

The woman shook her head in the courtroom after the decision was handed down, bursting into tears after saying “what have you done to women?” to the magistrate.

During her previous evidence, she said she asked Burgess if he was married during the visit to her house – to which he allegedly replied that he was but “you know how it is”.

The UK-born former front-rower and his then-wife have since separated.

Ms Manea said that she did not accept all of Burgess’s evidence, but she believed that he had not touched the woman sexually without her permission.

She also had doubts about the accuracy of the woman’s claims, she added.

“I have difficulty accepting his evidence, but I think some of it might be true,” Ms Manea said.

“In accordance, I must acquit – I have doubt and that must flow to the accused.”

George Burgess of the Dragons is tackled (file image)
George Burgess ended his 153-game NRL career with St George Illawarra. (Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS)

Burgess had no previous sexual offences on his record and had a history of being of good character, the magistrate said.

The court previously heard the ex-NRL player tried to kiss the woman multiple times at her apartment, but he failed as she swerved each time.

He said he never touched the woman’s backside, but he admitted he placed his hand on her lower back while she made tea in the kitchen.

The pair then sat together on the couch, where the former front-rower put his arm around her to get a photo, Burgess said.

“I was being cheeky, I was being friendly … it was nothing more than that,” he told the court.

Burgess also admitted asking the woman to cuddle on the sofa and stay for five minutes to “be naughty” with him, but he denied sticking his hand down the front of his pants.

After seeing the woman was “a bit uncomfortable”, Burgess said he got up and went home.

Burgess received a Snapchat message from the woman the next day, accusing him of sexual assault and groping.

He retired from rugby league in November after playing for South Sydney, the Wigan Warriors and finally St George Illawarra.

He has 153 NRL games to his name, as well as 15 tests for England.

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National Sexual Abuse and Redress Support Service 1800 211 028