LIKE most other chapters in the tawdry saga of the teenager and the football world, the news broke on Twitter.
The teenager announced her arrest to her 15,000 followers: ”Fabulous, have just been arrested – off to the police station . Thanks. DUUUHH, VIDEOS.”
Police had taken her to City West police station, where she was questioned about possible offences including drug possession and secretly filming AFL player manager Ricky Nixon.
About the same time, commercial news bulletins were showing footage the teenager says is of Nixon – in his underpants – in her hotel room.
After she was released by police without charge, she told The Age she had had not known covert filming was illegal until the police told her so: ”Ricky wasn’t aware that I filmed him,” she said. ”Ya, well, oh well, my mistake.”
Regardless of how the film was obtained, the teenager was last night sticking to her story that she and Nixon had had sex, and that he had taken drugs in her presence.
Nixon had emerged yesterday morning to vigorously deny the claims on Melbourne radio.
He painted himself as an innocent, fatherly figure trying to help a troubled young girl – in her hotel room. Yes, he admitted, he’d been a duffer to have seen her in private, most recently last week. But no, he insisted, there had been no alcohol, no drugs and no sex involved.
”I did not use drugs in her presence. I have not seen drugs when she’s been there. She has a video she’s put together which conveniently shows drugs in the video with her, not with me. She also shows a video that purports to show me in a hotel room with here. Yes, I was, [but] it doesn’t show me having sex with her. I’ve never had sex with her,” he told 3AW.
Nixon’s self-admitted error in visiting the teenager in her hotel room was all the more remarkable given her role in publishing on the internet naked photographs of two of his clients – St Kilda players Nick Riewoldt and Nick Dal Santo. She has since admitted that she lied about the origins of the photographs.
As 3AW’s Neil Mitchell asked him: ”You knew this girl was unreliable and dangerous. You’ve been telling people that for some time. Yet you went to her hotel room. Why?”
Nixon: ”I totally agree with you. I shouldn’t have gone there. I want to make that really clear. I apologise to everybody who thinks I’ve done the wrong thing.”
He hinted that the girl had said on the phone things ”that didn’t sound good to me” and that he had thought she needed help. But he refused to be drawn on whether he had been concerned that she might self-harm. He said the episode meant he might be reluctant to help people out in the future.
Commentators have quickly homed in on questions about the media ethics of the organisation that broke the story of the alleged relationship, the Herald Sun. The paper just happened to have a photographer outside the girl’s hotel as Nixon left it one morning last week.
Had the paper set up an under-aged girl to do a ”sting” on Mr Nixon?
Editor Simon Pristel yesterday strongly denied this, and he denied that the paper had paid her money. Asked whether he or anyone on his staff had urged the girl to provide photographic evidence of an inappropriate relationship with Mr Nixon, Pristel said, ”No, not at all.” No money had exchanged hands for the story either: ”We haven’t given her one cent.”
He did say the Herald Sun last week paid for the girl to have two nights in a city hotel. It was during one of these nights that the girl allegedly texted a Herald Sun reporter saying Nixon was in her hotel room. A reporter and photographer later saw Nixon leaving the hotel in the early morning.
Nixon yesterday said he had only arrived at the hotel 20 minutes earlier and merely spoke briefly to the girl about having stolen his credit card from him.
Pristel told The Age his paper paid for the girl’s stay in a hotel last Thursday and Friday nights out of concern for her welfare because she had nowhere to go, as her time in a different hotel at the AFL’s expense had run out. ”We didn’t feel it was appropriate that she should be on the street,” he said.
Pristel said he was concerned about how this might look, so he asked the girl’s lawyers to provide a statement confirming that the offer was made out of concern and not as an inducement to provide information.
He said Victoria’s Surveillance Devices Act made it illegal for him to publish the girl’s videos, or to report on their contents. If Nixon gave permission, however, they could be released: ”If he says he’s got nothing to hide, then I’m sure we might find a way around that.”
Nixon yesterday accused the Herald Sun of having reneged on an agreement: ”They did a deal with me which they seem very keen to break.” He refused to elaborate further.
Asked if there was a deal with Nixon, Pristel responded: ”On Friday when I met Ricky Nixon ? I put certain allegations to him. He denied some, admitted other things, and on legal advice I decided to publish his admissions and denials and to exclude from the next day’s paper certain other material. He was aware of the general nature of what we were publishing.”
Nixon, who is managing director of Flying Start, is now staring down a major threat to his career.
The AFL Players Association will investigate the scandal. Its accreditation board will on Thursday consider a preliminary inquiry on the matter.