Phillip Molly Malone, who may be familiar to those who move in the footy blogosphere, raised some interesting points in his AFLSpace Podcast titled ‘AFLSpace Podcast – Dikileaks -My Take On Those Photos, “Saints Girl”, Respect‘.
After about ten minutes of listening to what seemed to be a reasonably well balanced and informative piece of commentary, I almost fell on the floor when I heard Malone utter offensive and misogynistic views relating to the sexual exploitation/misuse of women. He was discussing the competing factual accounts in forming a conclusion as to how the girl and St Kilda Football Players came to meet, in particular whether it was likely that a St Kilda Football Player would take a girl’s phone number from her at a school clinic.
You can listen to the full version of the podcast here, but I thought it deserved being bolded and re-published. Feel free to skip to the transcript below to obtain an insight as to what Malone refers to as his “smell test” in arriving at a conclusion as to what probably happened.
I am guessing that by “smell test” he means that he is using his instincts to form his own opinions, because he certainly isn’t appealing to logic. His remarks cannot and should not go uncommented upon.
I am not re-publishing it for the sake of having a go at Baloney Malone, rather my purpose is to highlight one of the most fundamental misconceptions about sexual abuse or exploitation.
It is a misconception which leads people such as Maloney to use such logically flawed reasoning. As you will note from the bolded text below, Maloney can’t fathom why the St Kilda Football Players would have taken this girl’s phone number at a school clinic, particularly when they are surrounded by “women sort of jumping out of trees“, so many women they need to beat them off with a stick.
It isn’t that complicated really Maloney.
You see any person born in the latter half of the 21st century would have an inkling that sexual exploitation and rape are related more to abuse of power than sexual attraction. Even where attraction plays a large part, sexual exploitation isn’t purely a function of the attractiveness of the victim who, in this particular case, is “pretty” by the podcaster’s own concession.
This message should never be muddied in any way as there is far too much at stake. Sexual misbehaviour, exploitation and crimes are about the abuse of power, not whether or not a woman is a supermodel, and that even applies ,believe it or not Maloney, to football players.
It is well documented that people who are considered objectively unattractive to most people (a nebulous concept), are often raped or sexually misused by persons who would be considered to be more than attractive.
It is well documented that elderly women, not just young teenage girls, have been raped by young men. Rape and sexual abuse is a crime of power as opposed to pure unadulterated physical attraction.
In all fairness to Maloney, while his views may be seen as very uncommon today, they were more widely accepted in the seventies.
Of course there is no denying that a sexual reaction is more likely to be triggered when there is an element of attraction. Footy players are surrounded by very attractive women.
However Maloney’s rather warped sense of attractiveness is interfering with his ability to use reason. This is why it just doesn’t make sense that his superheroes with their supermodels and ‘once in a lifetime opportuities’ would behave the way they were alleged to.
Attraction is also a very subjective thing, and whilst Maloney may not be seen as a stud in the eyes of every single woman on the planet, I am sure his wife thinks he is.
He speculates about whether this girl was “pretty” or rather “pretty enough” for a player to take such a big risk. However I think the players views are the more important ones in assessing that and this question needs to be assessed realistically especially if we are going to arrive at any conclusions as to what happened.
Being approached by a pretty 16 year old vivacious teenager, model and athlete may not be something Maloney has directly experienced.
However I think it is totally naive to second guess what a footballers’ reaction would be in any given situation.
To suggest that it is inconceivable that this would be appealing, flattering or tempting to many young men, even footballers at school clinics, stretches the boundaries of credulity.
It isn’t always easy to say no, and to refuse to take that piece of paper with a phone number on it, or to discard it and refuse to act on it. The temptation that footballers place is similar to the temptation men in positions of power, authority and responsibility have. They have to be exceedingly cautious and self-disciplined every day.
Looking at a still image of a girl and trying to make a hypothetical judgement call based on second guessing what a young footballer might do is not what I would call a good foundation for arriving at assumptions about what might have happened between a teenager and a football player.
Still images don’t convey a lot of aspects of a person which stand out in person, and make them stand out in a crowd. This girl has proven that she is prepared to take risks and you would have to concede that she admits she exercised poor judgement. She was only a 16 year old girl.
This girl has also proven by her subsequent behaviour that she has been prepared to take risks. You would have to concede that taking on the AFL and the St Kilda Football Club on their terms and stepping forward for women says something about her personality.
To merely look at a picture of a very pretty girl and try to second guess how a football player would likely perceive her in real life without knowing anything about the interactions or context in which that meeting played out is almost impossible.
Lets not forget that she was a model. Not all school girls are models whether by choice or not.
A 16 year old girl who is model may stand out in a school clinic, whether she had more confidence, whether she was more or less pretty than her fellow school mates or because of the way she conducted herself.
It is ridiculous to assert that because she is not an “extraordinary specimen” it just “doesn’t make sense“, “isn’t rational“, or doesn’t pass the “(Maloney) smell test” for the players to accept her phone number at a school clinic or to subsequently act upon it.
What percentage of a teenage or young mans” behaviour could be considered rational when it comes to obtaining access to a teenage girl?
There are many examples of mature aged men of great wisdom have been thrown their political careers away by engaging in behaviour which, with the benefit of hindsight, may be considered as irrational given what is at stake. More frequently than not grown men engaging in inappropriate sexual activity has brought about their undoing.
We need to clearly understand footy players have hormones. We should expect a level of discipline and restraint on the part of football players in the company of young girls. However Malone is attributing an unrealistic level of willpower to our sporting heroes. They are mortals To say that you ‘just don’t buy it’, ‘it doesn’t make sense‘ or they are not that arrogant or stupid to do that is reminiscent of the cult like mentality of a fanatical footy fan who has drunk the koolaid so to speak.
Maloney’s analysis which his readers are all too ready to consume is that it is implausible that these football gods would have obtained the girls number from the school clinic because, after all, she isn’t “Elle McPherson“, a “once in a life time opportunity“. Maybe somebody should point out to these kind of AFL bloggers and their hangers on is that Elle McPherson is also old enough to be these players’ mother.
The reasoning of the average football blogger and their fans and their willingness to follow this kind of reasoning to form opinions about matters is a worrying trend.
If this is typical of the average footy blogger and readers attitude, namely that ‘it just couldn’t happen‘, ‘doesn’t smell right‘,’ they just wouldn’t be that arrogant and stupid’ then it isn’t all that surprising that many football fans have such closed minds.
The reasoning used by the podcaster in AFLspace is particularly offensive and could only appeal to a person who subscribes to a misogynistic world view that only female movie stars and celebrities are at risk in the presence of football players. These boys are young teenagers in many instances who are thrown into football and put on a pedestal. Forty eight percent of the fan base of a football club are females.
Maloney suggests there is a lack of any evidence. This begs the question of what evidence is and whether he is talking about evidence which has been deemed to be relevant and admissible in legal proceedings or hearsay. In any event, even hearsay can be admissible in a court of law under some circumstances.
Legally speaking it is something which is relevant and admissible in a court of law. Relevant evidence is evidence which is probative of a fact and/or facts in issue in a proceeding. In criminal proceedings for example evidence might consist of exhibits, testimony or documents a court deems to be relevant to making out the essential elements required to prove a crime.
There has been a lot of statements, records, transcripts and statements and speculation which is floating around which may turn out to be inadmissible or may be rejected by a court of law. Alternatively a lot of facts and assertions being made, video tapes or transcripts may never see the light of day for several reasons. No legal action may ensue, or legal action which has been taken may be abandoned.
However the evidence that we have been exposed to in a loose sense tells us at the very least that there is a need to find answers to certain questions. Some of that evidence relates to whether or not a person accused of statutory rape knows a victim is of the age of consent. Other evidence relates to whether a man had sexual relations with a minor and under what circumstances in order to ascertain whether there are any legal ramifications.
Other factors in this context revolve around the circumstances under which a relationship came about and whether the opportunity for forming the relationship arose out of a situation where an adult stood in a position of power, authority or trust over a minor, a person under the age of 18 years of age under Australian law.
All of these are factors which are potentially be relevant to whether a crime or an incident worthy of disciplinary sanction has occurred.
Any fact/s which tend to shed light on these issues and satisfies the test of legal admissibility could constitute evidence in legal proceedings. Even the fact that the girl was in the same school clinic the players were running is evidence, albeit circumstantial and certainly not sufficient in and of itself to constitute sufficient evidence of a crime having been committed against her.
It is just incorrect to say that there is NO indication of wrongdoing on the part of the St Kilda Football Players. Yet this is a position the public seem to have been so willing to embrace.
What we do know is that a player was engaged in sexual penetration with a minor.
Whilst bloggers and fans are correct in their assertion that the Police have decided not to prefer charges, we do not know why this is the case.
There are many reasons why Police do not prefer charges. In this instance there is a fair amount of evidence that would leave room for doubt in a lot of peoples’ minds that a footballer player and or player/s may have committed a crime.
Whilst there is a legal presumption of innocence which states that a person is not guilty of a crime until they have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt to have committed a crime, we know that there are also unwritten rules in AFL land.
There are also a multitude of reasons why matters aren’t brought to court. There are prosecution policies which are applied. There are many considerations to balance in non-controversial matters.
In the world of AFL Agreements have brought into existence relating to the exchange of evidence between the Victorian Police and the AFL. To the best of my knowledge these agreements have never been used.
However there is also a legitimate expectation that there should be a reasonable degree of co-operation between a Football Club and it’s governing body when it comes to the investigation and prosecution of criminal matters.
There has been speculation that evidence of transcripts between players and police were destroyed in the past and in pending cases. There has also been speculation that victims statements have been interfered with at the hands of powerful persons with vested interests in the outcomes of these investigations.
At this point in time there is a legal presumption of innocence in relation to a crime having been committed. However, as stated, there are a multitude of reasons, some even unconnected to the lack of availability as to why crimes are not pursued by Police. Some of these reasons are publicly known whilst there are unwritten and unspoken policies and silent understandings.
Bloggers would need to speak to a lawyer versed in criminal law in order to better understand how the criminal justice works in theory and practice.
The fact that no criminal charges may have been laid in a particular case does not mean that there is no suspicion that player misconduct of a criminal nature has occurred which may not meet a criminal standard of evidence, or is still under investigation to gather further evidence.
Indeed there is a Memorandum of Understanding facilitating the mutual exchange of police information between the AFL and Police where there are suspicions of wrongdoing including but not limited to sexual assault and other forms of wrongdoing.
One of the alleged purposes for the agreement being brought into being was to assist in the further investigation and evidence gathering process between the AFL and Police so that a final decision can be made whether to prefer charges in a particular matter.
When this Agreement was signed it provoked indignance and outrage because it was perceived by the players as a potential threat to their privacy. The imagery associated with the movie ‘Minority Report’ and concerns about corruption, blackmail and pre-emptive prosecutions being undertaken were legitimately raised by the AFL and political figures.
However what didn’t occur to many people is that the Agreement, which is yet to be used, cuts both ways.
It permits the Police to pass information to the AFL and for information to be passed from the Police back to the AFL. There are some other concerns that could arise from the existence of such an Agreement.
To give a hypothetical scenario, what defence lawyer wouldn’t want to get their hands on all of the evidence in the possession of the Police before the Brief comes through, or all of the evidence in the possession of control of Police in a prosecution in which a defendant is involved?
The fact that the Agreement hasn’t been causes me to wonder what it’s purpose really is. One possibility is that it is just not working as it was intended to work, an alternative explanation may be that it has some dark sinister purpose which would only be revealed in a situation where it’s real intended use emerges Either way, setting aside all of the speculation about cover-ups and obstruction in past, present or pending matters involving AFL players, there is a fundamental problem with respect to transparency here as I see it.
The fact that in any given case there isn’t or wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute a matter doesn’t mean there was insufficient evidence for the AFL to invoke disciplinary proceedings.
Clearly in this instance there is enough evidence to conclude that at some point in time the AFL became aware a minor was involved in a sexual relationship with a football player. It would be hard for the AFL to deny this.
The fact that no action at all has been taken certainly has a smell, but not the same kind of smell Maloney refers to. It has a certain stench of criminality to me, particularly in the light of other matters.
Maloney refers to the AFL investigation into the girls complaint although we don’t know of how exhaustive that investigation was nor do we have the specifics, except to the extent that there has been a version of events provided by a South Australian radio station.
The AFL do have every incentive to conceal or misstate matters to serve their own interests.
The AFL cannot claim to be as pure as the driven snow in terms of their past record in investigating related incidents.
Just as many have been quick to point to the finger at this young teenage girl with accusations that she has ‘form‘ in terms of her history of sexual relationships, who are the AFL to deny that they have form and a chequered history in investigating players’.
The AFL have not been known to go out of their way to punish players involved in instances where there has been compelling evidence of sexual misconduct against women. If anything, their standard of proof seems to be even higher than the criminal standard.
This is as stated in a previous article, not unique to football, for within professional fields we have public records demonstrating that they receive preferential treatment compared to the average citizen where criminal behaviour is concerned. As with football, this phenomenon is also largely attributable in part to preserving the image of an organisation in the eyes of the public.
The attitude in the football community is that all football players are innocent before proven guilty, perhaps from watching too many American crime shows. This is the standard when discussing criminal acts.
Fans conflate the absence of criminal charges as being indicative of an absence of wrongdoing.
This derives from a misunderstand that a football player doesn’t have a constitutional or civil right to play football. After all Julia Gillard was excluded from the Western Bulldogs because she was mildly overweight, a little out of shape and too short. Playing football in the AFL also carries with it contractual responsibilities. When talking about wrongdoing and innocence fans should consider at least that players forfeit certain privileges and rights by the choices they decide to make in their public and private life.
Without being privy to the evidence or a witness I tend to believe, unlike the fans, bloggers and the public that this girls story is plausible. This is diametrically opposed to the view that ‘it just couldn’t have possibly happened‘, ‘it is beyond belief‘, and/or ‘she is lying’, which is based only on a hunch and media spin.
After all lets consider that the player made sure he found out that his girl was 16 years of age. Clearly he wasn’t too “irrational or stupid” to make sure he did that.
Is it seriously Maloney or footy fans’ contention that a young man would need to consult a lawyer for an opinion about what sounds like correct legal advice. When you consider his actions Maloney, what he did is far from bizarre or inconceivable and he proceeded with diligence by most young mens’ standards.
In fact he did his due diligence, carefully pausing to consider the legality of his actions and calibrate his behaviour accordingly.
The only thing that could lead one to an alternative conclusion is the medieval mentality which belongs to a bygone era to to the effect that only pretty women get raped. If an ordinary woman comes forward and claims she was raped she is obviously lying.
That attitude and mentality was supposed to have disappeared long ago. Clearly however it isn’t completely gone. As events have unfolded in the last few weeks I am convinced that the more things change the more they stay the same.
If you consider this situation from the vantage point of concerned parents, they would understandably be concerned about sending their daughter to school on a school clinic or footy related event.
This is very sad. I am sure that there are plenty of students and many players whose conduct themselves with integrity, restraint and act with respect and compassion towards women. The public and the majority of AFL players who do have internal social controls that value and respect women suffer the stigma of suspicions about players behaving with impunity.
Everybody suffers were the AFL fail to take a stand where things go badly wrong and people are harmed. AFL fans are ready to believe that there heroes’ behaviour is beyond reproach without pause or reflection.
Regardless of what we think of the morality of the law, the reality of the law is that this is the way the law presently stands.
If fans cannot see that things easily get out of control and relationships head south ruining lives, what hope is there for any young women to expect things to improve.
The AFL have acted as apologists for their players as have their fans, the media and the fans in the blogosphere.
The AFL should seize the opportunity to confront the truth, take a stand and ensure that public confidence is restored in the players, the games and the organisation. Importantly real healing can only take place if there is a preparedness for the fans to be prepared to demand more accountability from their clubs, players and governing bodies.
‘AFLSpace Podcast – Dikileaks -My Take On Those Photos, “Saints Girl”, Respect‘ – Phillip Molly Malone
“… and ..er..the investigation found that there was no evidence that the players had done anything wrong including contacting her after the school clinic. (sigh) Now to me this makes a lot of sense because as..as we go through some of the issues moving on we find a lot of people have the attitude that …un…a lot of these AFL players …ahh..have groupies, that they …er…just go to nightclubs and pick up girls and the likes..now…this would not surprise me in the least if this is true, that a lot of these girls throw themselves at these AFL players. Now that wouldn’t surprise me. Now what the AFL players do afterwards..you know..hopefully we’ll touch on as What the AFL players do or did afterwards, we will touch on as this podcaset moves along, or at least my opinions and thoughts and things to put forward. But to me this sort of debunks the idea that ..ah these players would in fact take a girl’s phone number at a school clinic…at a high school clinic. Why would they do such a thing? Now…err..the girl in question is ..eh..pretty..definitely, but she isn’t ..you know..extraordinarily…an extraordinary ah…specimen that you’d …you’d just be feeling like you’d just missed out of one of life’s opportunities, one of life’s great moments if you’d..if you didn’t take an opportunity to ah…date or more with her. So I don’t see that there is logic behind the idea that these footballers who know they are under the spotlight at a school clinic where you know lets face it there’s probably hundreds of kids or… you know.. hundreds of teenagers that they would pick this one girl take their…ah her phone number….um…or you know take the phone number and do anything about it. Perhaps they did you know accept a piece of paper that was handed to them by the girl or something like that. And..you know it’s just beyond belief the old smell test, the test that says if it doesn’t smell right …oh you know this doesn’t make a lot of sense. To me the smell test on this just doesn’t smell right, to suggest that they took the number and then acted on it from this school clinic. I mean if you work out of the theory that these players have women sort of jumping out of trees ..out at night clubs and the like, you know that they are beating them off with a stick, that they could go out anytime they would ..you know ..and score a girl who’d want to come home with them to their bedroom, why would they do something that risky as you know take a number or what not from a school clinic. I mean you know it just doesn’t make any sense. I mean somebody would say you know I just don’t buy that. I don’t think that they’d be that arrogant and stupid enough to do that and …I …ah..you know for someone that was Elle McPherson like or something. You know I just don’t believe that to be the case. You know I mean it just doesn’t make any sense to me, so as far as I’m concerned anything that happens from hereon in I am assuming that they did not recognise her from the school clinic and they didn’t get the phone number from the school clinic”