|18 May 2012, 1029 hrs IST, AGENCIES|
Yet another huge controversy today hit the IPL when an Australian player Luke Pomersbach was arrested on a charge of molesting an American woman and attacking her fiance but his team owners attempted a cover-up seeking to question the character of the victim.
The 27-year-old right-handed batsman, who plays for Royal Challengers Bangalore in IPL and has had a history of brawls and brush with police in his country, was arrested on a complaint by the woman who claimed he had invited himself for drinks in her room in a five-star hotel last night and misbehaved with her.
When she objected and her fiance tried to protect her, Pomersbach allegedly landed punches on the fiance's head following which he has been admitted to a private hospital for treatment.
The player, seen with his left arm in a sling, was produced in a local court where he fainted. The Magistrate
released him on a day's bail asking police to come with the CCTV footage from the hotel tomorrow before further proceedings could be held.
As the off-field incident stoked a huge storm over the already controversy-marred IPL, Siddharth Mallya, director of RCB and son of Vijay Mallya, sought to create doubts over the character of the woman.
"She was all over me last night and asked for my BBM (Blackberry Messenger) pin, so if he was her fiance, she wasn't exactly behaving like a future wife," Siddharth said in his tweet.
Unfazed by the criticism over his tweets, Siddharth refused to apologise for his comments claiming he was merely speaking the truth.
Mallya senior regretted the incident and said the team would cooperate with the investigations, a line his son also took. However, his comments on Twitter set off a fresh row and he also lost his temper with journalists who questioned him.
The player's conduct prompted Vijay Mallya to suspend the batsman, who has not played a single IPL match so far this season, till the time he is cleared of the charges.
Meanwhile, the woman claimed in the court that she was being threatened "apparently" by a foreign coach associated with the Bangalore team.
"They threatened me three-four hours ago. When I went back to the hotel to take my belongings, I was given threats apparently by the coach of the team. He introduced himself as the coach of the team", she said.
"Pressure is being mounted on me to withdraw the case, but I will not do so," the woman said.
The incident came two days after Shah Rukh Khan's scuffle with officials of the Maharashtra Cricket Association officials, which has prompted MCA to ban the Kolkata Knight Riders co-owner and Bollywood star from its premises for five years.
A case has been registered against Pomersbach under various sections of IPC including section 354 of IPC
(outraging modesty of woman), 323 (hurt), 454 (house trespass) and 511 (Punishment for attempting to commit offences punishable with imprisonment for life or other imprisonment).
The woman claimed that when she left the men, her fiance and a common friend from Mumbai, alone and went to her bedroom for catching some sleep Luke followed her and misbehaved with her. "He tried to pull my hair and kiss me," she alleged.
The woman's fiancee has been admitted to a hospital where a CT scan has been done, doctors attending to him said. The woman claimed that pressure is being mounted on her to withdraw the case but she will not do so.
In the court, the woman broke down when she narrated the sequence of the incident.
The police, who sought the player's judicial custody, submitted that Pomersbach misbehaved with the woman and assaulted the fiance Sahil, who received injuries.
IPL authorities sought to distance themselves from the incident with Chairman Rajiv Shukla saying the event had nothing to with this because the it did not happen in any party organised by it.
"Let the law take its course," he said. Denying the charge that IPL was full of controversies, Shukla said IPL 4 and 5 were free of controversies till now.
However, BJP MP and former cricketer Kirti Azad alleged that the IPL "has given rise to many unsavoury things. Today's attempt to rape is one such (incident)".
He said foreign players were taking advantage of the conditions here.
Shukla said that it was " misbehaviour of an individual player".
"There were no official parties in IPL 4 and 5. So the incident was not connected with an official IPL party. It was an individual misbehaviour of an individual player," he told reporters.
Pomersbach, who made his international debut when he was called into Australia's Twenty20 side in Perth in December 2007, has a history of misbehaviour under the influence of alcohol.
In 2009, after two hit-and-run incidents, Pomersbach was arrested and charged by police for driving with a blood alcohol level in excess of permissible limits, failing to stop and accompany police and escaping legal custody.
Dharmendra Kumar, Special Commissioner of Police (Law and Order), said the incident took place in the five-star hotel early this morning.
"The player went to the woman and her fiance's room where they had drinks. When the woman was leaving the room, he allegedly molested her. Then the fiance objected following which a scuffle took place," he said.
Kumar said that the fiance's ear was bleeding profusely.
The woman claimed that her fiance has lost hearing in his left ear and could have suffered brain haemorrhage.
The hospital said the vital parameters of the patient -- blood pressure, pulse, oxygen level in blood, cardiac and abdominal condition -- were all normal.
"Since the patient complained of delusion and there was injury to the ear, a CT scan was done immediately and the report said that there was no deep head injury," the doctor said. He said the condition of the patient is stable.