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NRL star cleared of sexual touching

Written by on May 10, 2024

Former NRL star George Burgess went to a woman’s house with the intention of being intimate with her while dropping off a jersey for a charity event, but did not grope her, a magistrate has found.

George Burgess pleaded not guilty to a single charge of sexually touching another person without consent while at the woman’s Mascot home in Sydney in March 2022.

The former St George Illawarra Dragons forward admitted to going to the home of the woman, whom he had known for about a decade, after agreeing to provide a signed jersey for charity.

As Mr Burgess dialled into court via audiovisual link, magistrate Emma Manea told the court that the former NRL player had attended the woman’s house for just 11 minutes from 10.24am to 10.35am.

The magistrate told the court that she believed Mr Burgess’s evidence and acquitted the former football player.

Earlier this year, Mr Burgess told the court that he was only being “cheeky and friendly” with the woman but it was “nothing more than that”.

He was married at the time but told the court that he had intentions to be intimate with the woman and admitted to being “flirty”, asking her to “stay and be naughty” with him.

During the first day of the hearing in October 2023, the woman told the court that she felt “violated” when Mr Burgess attempted to kiss her moments after handing over the jersey.

She offered him a cup of tea to “try to defuse the situation”.

“I opened the cupboard and he’s turned around (and) grabbed me on the bottom,” the woman told police in body-worn vision played in court.

“I froze on the inside and was just looking at the tea. He put a hand either side of my body and pressed right up against me. … I told him, ‘this is not going to happen’.”

The court was told Mr Burgess was asked if he was still married and he responded: “Yes, but you know how it is.”

Mr Burgess continued: “Come on, just five minutes, stay and be naughty with me.”

He denied kissing the woman or grabbing her bottom but said he had put his hand on her back while she was making him a cup of tea “to be friendly”.

“She went over to the kitchen bench and I sort of came behind her to see what tea she was using because I like Yorkshire tea,” Mr Burgess told the court in March.

The court was told the woman said: “I’m not that kind of girl, I wouldn’t do this to another woman.”

While sitting on the lounge, Mr Burgess admitted to telling her: “We’ve known each other 10 years, nothing has ever happened between us but something should.”

In his evidence, Mr Burgess conceded he noticed the woman was “a bit uncomfortable”, prompting him to leave.

When asked in court if the woman had been “rejecting” his advances from the moment he arrived, Mr Burgess said “yes”.

The court was told Mr Burgess sent the woman a “horny devil emoji” after leaving her house, which she ignored, but later messaged saying she was “really uncomfortable” with what happened.

“She said that you put a huge cloud over such a nice thing that you did in respect to the jersey and the fact you had known each other 10 years, she thought she could trust you in her own home,” Police prosecutor Adrian Walsh said to Mr Burgess during his evidence.

Mr Burgess told the court that he was “gutted and shocked” by the message and replied saying he was “so sorry”, as he wanted to “defuse” the situation.

The prosecutor asked: “You were trying to water it down so it would protect your family and your career.”

“Yes,” Mr Burgess replied.

The woman was emotional while giving evidence in October, telling the court she was “petrified” during the interaction and wanted to get Mr Burgess out of her house.

She said she was “uncomfortable” because Mr Burgess was a “six foot man”, double her weight and he had “encroached” on her home.

Mr Burgess, who played for the St George Illawarra Dragons in 2022, announced his retirement that year.

But he returned to win a premiership with the Cairns Brothers in the Cairns and District Rugby League competition last season before retiring again.