Lewd sexts from Sam Burgess’ account
PREMIERSHIP hero Sam Burgess is the player at the centre of the Rabbitohs sexting scandal, with The Saturday Telegraph revealing his verified social media accounts were used in video chats that sparked a young woman's complaints about lewd behaviour.
Screenshots taken of Burgess's Facebook Messenger account during the video exchanges with the woman show a naked man baring his genitalia from the torso down and another man with his pants down flashing his backside.
The men's faces cannot be seen.
South Sydney refused to confirm which Rabbitohs were the naked players but chief executive Blake Solly told The Saturday Telegraph he had held "constructive and helpful" discussions with the 23-year-old woman, who first contacted Souths four months ago saying she felt violated and disgusted by the online encounter.
Mr Solly said the investigation would be undertaken with the "utmost confidentiality and respect".
"The club will deal with the complaint thoroughly and the club will move as quickly as we possibly can to conclude the investigation," he said.
Records obtained by The Telegraph show an exchange of messages on May 26 between Burgess's social media accounts and the woman, as well as several screenshot images showing Burgess and some of his Souths teammates during a video chat.
The woman claimed the exchange came after she sent the England international a message on Instagram to alert him when she found a fake profile of him on the dating app Tinder while on an overseas trip.
Burgess replied from his verified account: "You swipe right?" then thanked her and told her: "The boys want to face time."
Images then taken from the videochat show several South Sydney players, including Burgess, relaxing in what appears to be a restaurant after their big win over the Warriors earlier in the day. One shows a man's bare backside.
Later that night the woman says she received a series of video calls from a hotel room using a personal Facebook account that was in Burgess's name.
In one screenshot seen by The Telegraph, a man standing up pulls down his underwear to expose his penis. In another Instagram image, a man is lying on his hotel bed in just his underwear.
Towards the end of the exchange, the woman receives a two-word Facebook message: "Too much."
Records show when a call went unanswered, another attempt was made within minutes.
Married father-of-one Burgess, who has recently signed a new $3.2 million four-year contract with Souths, declined to comment when approached at his home in Sydney's eastern suburbs.
When shown the images and asked "Are these photos of you?" he responded, "There's obviously an ongoing investigation going into it … no comment."
The woman contacted The Telegraph after she said that repeated follow-up emails to the club demanding action had fallen on deaf ears.
Yesterday the Rabbitohs confirmed that the woman's initial email - fired off the day after the exchange - was received by the club's football operations manager Brock Schafer on June 1.
In that email, Mr Schafer assures the woman the matter was being taken "seriously" and the club "will work to understand what has occurred".
However, subsequent emails from the woman on June 5 and August 31 were never responded to.
"I feel quite disappointed that my email has not been responded too (sic) since a few months ago," she wrote in August.
"I find it disgusting how these boys think they can get away with this crap."
Souths engaged an independent contractor to investigate the email trail after The Telegraph made inquiries about the club's failure to respond.
Mr Solly said the investigation had found that her emails demanding action over the incident in June and August had been missed because the club's IT system had tagged them as spam.
The NRL's Integrity Unit is also investigating the young woman's claims.
Talking from South Africa, where she is currently holidaying, the woman confirmed she had received an email from Mr Solly.
"I first asked the club to investigate in May but, apart from an email acknowledging my complaint, no one got back to me," she said.
"I don't want anyone to get into trouble and I don't want any money for this.
"I just want this sort of behaviour to stop - the players think they're indestructible.
"It's not fair girls are put in a position where they are made to feel violated and uncomfortable. An apology would be nice."
The latest crisis to envelope rugby league comes at the worst possible time for the Rabbitohs as they prepare to take on the Dragons at ANZ Stadium in an elimination final on Saturday night.
- Additional reporting: Marnie Cohen