Catherine Gaffaney is a general reporter based in Auckland.

Chiefs stripper scandal: Calls to escalate investigation

Chiefs urged to tackle Mad Monday row as second woman comes forward with disturbing allegations.
The Chiefs have stumbled from one controversy to another this week after allegations from off-field celebrations. Picture / Photosport
The Chiefs have stumbled from one controversy to another this week after allegations from off-field celebrations. Picture / Photosport

The Chiefs have called upon New Zealand Rugby to escalate the investigation into the team's stripper scandal after allegations a second stripper was mistreated by players from the top Super Rugby franchise.

Last night a second stripper alleged players had mistreated her at an out-of-control party last year. Her account follows Tauranga-based stripper "Scarlette" alleging she was inappropriately touched and licked, had alcohol and gravel thrown on her and was intimidated at a Mad Monday celebration this week.

The Chiefs released a statement this morning - saying they have requested New Zealand Rugby widen the investigation.

"The Chiefs are concerned and disappointed to hear of new allegations made in the media last night relating to player post-season activities in 2015," Andrew Flexman, Chiefs CEO said.

"Given that New Zealand Rugby is already leading an investigation into allegations made following the team's post season celebrations this week, we have asked New Zealand Rugby to extend their investigation to include the related events and information.

"New Zealand Rugby has confirmed that their investigation will include these related events. We have told New Zealand Rugby that we will cooperate fully and openly with all aspects of their investigation as required."

The Chiefs said no further comment will be made at this stage.

The Super Rugby franchise has stumbled from one controversy to another this week, after forward Michael Allardice had to apologise on Tuesday for homophobic comments made during a Mad Monday celebration.

Yesterday the second stripper, who wanted to be known as Laura, alleged players touched her and called her a "filthy slut" at a 2015 season-ending party.

In an interview with MediaWorks she claimed 10 different players touched her body inappropriately, including her bottom, despite telling them not to.

"They were just full on. I was trying to dance and they are all surrounding me and I asked them several times to back off ... They ended up spitting alcohol, beer all over me."

After three songs Laura said she'd had enough and left as "quickly as possible".

Police have met the woman but it is understood no complaint has been made. The Chiefs did not return calls on the subject last night.

Last night as New Zealand Rugby, the Chiefs and the NZ Rugby Players' Association began an investigation into the first stripper's claims, Waikato Woman's Refuge called on any players involved "to stand up as the brothers, fathers and sons we know you to be and to redress this wrong".

In other developments yesterday:

• Margaret Comer, the corporate executive of Chiefs sponsor Gallagher Group, apologised for earlier saying "what are we supposed to do?" if men touched a woman who took her clothes off and walked around in front of them.

• The Auckland-based Blues Super Rugby franchise said it banned Mad Mondays last year. Chief executive Michael Redman said the team endorsed All Black coach Steve Hansen's comments there was no place in the game for such events. The Rugby Union would not say whether it would ban the practice.

• One witness at Monday's strip show said he never saw the stripper being manhandled by the players.

Scarlette told Radio New Zealand she was booked to waitress and perform a routine for the side's end-of-season celebrations at the Okoroire Hot Springs Hotel, near Matamata, on Monday. She said a number of the players were "beyond drunk" when she arrived.

"Basically, they wanted me to be a whore, which I wasn't there to be. And when I went to collect payment they short-changed me .. I had one of the players going through my phone."

Hotel manager Cushla Wood said she was not in the bar for the strip show but was told the stripper had drinks in the bar with the team afterwards, which hardly suggested she was scared of them.

A Mt Manganui man, who didn't want to be named, said he watched Scarlette perform but didn't see players do anything untoward.

Concerned at the media coverage, he'd contacted Chiefs management and told them he and his friend would be witnesses for them if an investigation took place.

"The guys were as good as gold, apart from a bit of chanting."

The man said the stripper used sex toys during her performance and got one of the younger Chiefs players down on the ground.

He said he heard her talking with the players afterwards about joining them on the team bus. They all then walked off towards the bus together. However, the stripper said she left.

The Weekend Herald understands investigators have been told no players had touched the stripper. It is understood they were told that a player's friend had performed a sexual act on the stripper, but nobody else had.

Last night Chiefs chief executive Andrew Flexman said the franchise would look at a ban on Mad Monday after the current investigation had been completed. "Of course it is going to be a possibility."

Margaret Comer from Gallagher Group said earlier this week that she was "reluctant to say that the boys were out of line". Comer, who is also a trustee of the Waikato Women's Refuge later apologised for her "poor choice of words" and said she did not "condone any kind of mistreatment of women".

Waikato Women's Refuge Te Whakaruruhau chief executive Roni Albert apologised to Scarlette, and for harm following Comer's comments.

"To the men who were involved in this incident we would like you to know that we believe the behaviour to be reprehensible and that you have a responsibility to ensure that it never happens again. It is not time to hide or point the finger but to stand up as the brothers, fathers and sons we know you to be and to redress this wrong."

- NZ Herald

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