Footballer denies taking part in assault

A PROFESSIONAL footballer denied sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman as she slept in a hotel bedroom and said his fellow accused took part in a ‘juvenile prank’.

Steve Cook, of Perth Road, St Leonards, was in the witness box earlier this week as one of four football players who faced charges of voyeurism and sexual assault.

The 21-year-old, who now plays for AFC Bournemouth, was playing for Brighton and Hove Albion when the assault is alleged to have taken place at the Jury’s Inn Hotel in the city on July 17, 2011.

He appeared this week at the Old Bailey alongside his former Brighton team mates Anton Rodgers, 19, Lewis Dunk, 21, and George Barker, 21.

The four are accused of taking mobile phone pictures as they carried out the assault.

The alleged victim discovered the pictures on Rodgers’ phone after waking up the next morning to find herself half-naked on a hotel bed, the court had been told.

On Wednesday, Cook took to the witness box to insist he had never taken part in any alleged sexual assault.

He said Rodgers and another man - who he assumed was Barker - had produced their genitals but done nothing to the alleged victim.

“It just seemed to me it was a juvenile prank,” he told the court.

Asked by his QC, Sonia Woodley, whether he found their antics ‘sexually stimulating’ in any way, he replied: ‘None whatsoever, no.’

Asked about Rodgers’ claims he had kneeled up from his bed on the floor to watch what was happening and made lewd comments before exposing his own genitals he also said he could not remember.

“I don’t know why he said it,’ he said.

Prosecuting Richard Barton asked: “Is it because it’s true?

“You were joining in with all the fun, not just laughing but participating.’

“It’s not true, no,” said Cook.

The prosecutor continued: “You were quite happy joining in to have a laugh and humiliating that woman, and taking titillating photographs in order to keep a record of what you had done.”

Cook said he had not.

The jury is expected to retire to deliberate its verdict on Monday.