Oh how the mighty fall. Former All Black lock, Robin Brooke, has finally come out and admitted that he did indeed grope a fifteen year old Auckland girl at a Fiji holiday resort. That Brooke has taken a month to accept responsibility only serves to cast him in an even dimmer light than he was already seen. It can only be assumed that this delay in admitting guilt was designed to allow Brooke time to negotiate a settlement in exchange for the complaint to police being dropped. No criminal conviction- good for Brooke. Not a particularly good look though overall. It only accentuates the appearance of looking after what is best for his interests and not genuinely caring about the impact of his actions on the teenage girl.
And what of the fifteen year old girl? Brooke has said that there are no winners in this situation. This is obviously true. It’s just that Brooke will be able to move on reasonably quickly from this. The girl, however, may not. She will have to live with the memories of what was done to her for the rest of her life. Oh sure, Brooke has apologised, but only because he was forced to under the terms of the settlement. But does he really mean it? It is all very easy to offer a public apology, take your medicine briefly and then get on with your life. All the while the victim is still suffering. She will be wondering why her and what did she do to deserve Brooke’s unwanted attentions. By all accounts she had not provoked Brooke in any way whatsoever. She was simply going about her business, enjoying herself, only to have her life changed forever.
What makes this case even more sinister is that when a young Australian lad, Jordan Whittaker, came to the girl’s aide Brooke grabbed him by the throat and threw him backwards into a chair. Brooke didn’t stop to think that he might actually be in the wrong. If he had of stopped there and offered an apology then he may not have found himself in the predicament that he is now in. Extremely manly stuff on the part of Brooke, of course. I mean why, shouldn’t a 6ft 5in, 100 kilo man deal to a seventeen year old boy. He’s a former All Black, he’s big and tough, and he can do what he wishes. Cant he?
It appears not to have occurred to Brooke that as a former All Black he holds a privileged position in society. In New Zealand, rugby being our national sport, anyone having played in the black jersey holds special status and is revered. With that, whether it is right or wrong comes responsibility. The responsibility to lead by example, to live within the boundaries of the law. You know, all that common sense kind of stuff. Which one would have thought included respecting the limits of other people no matter what sex or age they are.
These responsibilities- a rather quaint notion to Brooke, I know - might also include not getting drunk and claiming not to remember the events of that particular evening. How many times do we all have to listen to a sports star (or anyone else for that matter), who having committed a act of idiocy blather on about how they cannot remember what has happened because they had been drinking. Please, spare us all. How convenient that Brooke just happens to have suffered memory loss about such a crucial matter. It’s as if he and many others think that if they claim to have no memory of the event, that this somehow makes them less culpable for their actions. Once again, spare us.
This convenient memory loss syndrome is not a new phenomenon either. Just last year, Manly rugby league star, Brett Stewart, was charged with sexually assaulting a young lady. Naturally enough Stewart claimed at the time to have no memory of the incident because he was drunk. You see, like in Brooke’s case, it was all the alcohol’s fault. Brooke clearly did not want to drink the alcohol. This, it seems, upset the alcohol so it forced itself down Brooke’s throat against his will. So really the alcohol should be apologising to not just Brooke, but also the teenage girl and Whittaker.
That alcohol can be the perpetrator of so many crimes is just mind-blowingly incomprehensible. Naturally enough, we the human race are faultless and beyond accusations of any wrong-doing. So then, it must be the alcohol that is evil. Which means that despite his suspected Claytons apology, Brooke will be able convince himself in the future that he is not a bad person and certainly not the kind to harass defenceless teenagers that are only half the size of him.
There will be those that come out and defend him, no doubt, and claim that he deserves a second chance. Most people do and Brooke, one suspects, will eventually be afforded that chance. Those defending him will claim that he’s not really like that. Especially former team mates. We played with him for ten years and his behaviour was impeccable, they will say. And he may well have a clean conscience as far as the past goes. But, if anything has occurred before, it tends to be a case of what happens on tour stays on tour. No one wants to be seen to be having a go at team mates, even if it is from some time ago. And as Brooke has just showed, do we really know anyone as well as we think we do?
Mark Twain once commented that “every man is a moon, with a dark side he doesn’t show anybody”.
It seems that Brooke’s dark side has had some light shed upon it.