Former All Black sorry for groping teen

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The Independent Online

Former All Black Robin Brooke has apologised on national television to the teenage girl whose backside he groped in Fiji on New Year's Eve and will undergo alcohol counselling, donate to charity and reimburse airfares and legal fees.

Brooke told TVNZ's Close Up last night that he had drunk so much that night he could not remember anything, but accepted the 15-year-old's version of events.

He said the girl, who had saved up for her holiday, "had no reason for this to ever happen to her".

He was accused of grabbing her backside while she was poolside at a resort at Denarau, Fiji.

Earlier in the evening at a different resort, Brooke was photographed in women's underwear with tampons as earrings, after losing a bet.

Fiji police are also investigating an allegation he assaulted 17-year-old Jordan Whittaker - throwing him on a deckchair, grabbing his throat and threatening him - when he stepped in to help the girl.

A civil lawsuit has been filed against Brooke in Fiji's High Court seeking $20,000 in damages.

Last night Brooke said he felt terrible about assaulting the girl, particularly as he had two daughters of his own.

"There's many rugby analogies ... When you look at yourself in the mirror you have got to like what you see and at the moment because of that incident I don't," he said.

"I hope our meeting and the apology will bring closure to her and her family over an incident for which I'm truly remorseful."

Brooke said he was alone when the groping happened "in passing", on the way to get a taxi. He did not previously think he had a drinking problem, but "welcomed the opportunity" to find out if he did in counselling.

Brooke agreed All Blacks were put on a pedestal in New Zealand "rightly or wrongly", but said that did not excuse his actions.

A statement released by Peter Tomlinson, the lawyer for the girl's family, said that after a "full and frank discussion" between the families, an apology had been made and accepted.

"This has not been about money at any stage and no compensation has been paid," it said. "The only monies paid to her have been reimbursement of her airfare."

The family hoped all involved would consider the matter closed and the girl hoped it would encourage others subjected to inappropriate behaviour to speak out.

Brooke apologised for his behaviour, which was "in no way provoked" and "unacceptable".

He said he "genuinely tried to express [his] regret" the day after and understood how upset the girl was.

Sourced from: The New Zealand Herald