THE RETRIAL of a professional footballer from St Leonards charged with sexually assaulting a young woman as she slept in a hotel has begun at the Old Bailey.
Steve Cook, 21, of Perth Road, along with Anton Rodgers, 20, Lewis Dunk, 21, and George Barker, 21, abused their privileged position to sexually humiliate a sleeping teenager, the court was told.
Cook is a defender with AFC Bournemouth but was on loan at Brighton at the time playing alongside the accused.
The jury heard how the four photographed themselves molesting the 19-year-old woman while celebrating a cup final victory.
The alleged victim discovered the pictures on Rodgers’ phone after waking up the next morning to find herself lying half naked on a hotel bed.
But when she confronted Rodgers, the son of Liverpool manager Brendon Rodgers, he laughed at her and another footballer told her that if it had happened to him he would put the photo on his Facebook page.
Prosecutor Richard Barton said: “These were the actions of an arrogant group of young men who thought that by reason of their privileged position as professional footballers they would be able to do this to this woman and that she would not come forward and tell the truth about what had happened.”
The woman at first told police she had been attacked by a group of men in the street and covered up the involvement of the Brighton and Hove Albion players.
It was only six months later that she revealed the full story after being repeatedly taunted about it by another footballer, the court heard.
All four footballers deny sexual assault. Rodgers, Barker and Cook also deny a charge of voyeurism.
Dunk was cleared of voyeurism following an earlier trial in February which jurors were unable to reach verdicts on the remaining charges.
Mr Barton said: “This case concerns how a group of young professional footballers who were intoxicated after a night out celebrating a cup final victory took advantage of a young woman.
“She, by reason of her own level of intoxication, was obviously in a vulnerable condition.
“They took her back to a hotel room and in fact waited until she was unconscious - she was in no position to resist - and then they sexually assaulted her.
“They sexually assaulted her in a deliberately humiliating way and they compounded that humiliation by taking photographs of themselves as they did so in order that all could have a permanent record of what they had done.”