Brett Stewart has been charged with sexual assault after tackling a girl in the aftermath of the Manly Leagues Club's season opening party at a local hotel. He caught a cab home, saw a girl smoking a cigarette outside the apartment block where he lives, and jumped on her.
He says he doesn't remember anything about the incident. Fans have rallied to his support and academic and League adviser Catharine Lumby has written publicly in his defence, saying that the problem's more widespread, but the fact remains that the guy's been done big time. His image has been erased from a season-opening TV commercial full of positive images of League and its links to the littlies.
Stewart may be classified as a 'significant adult' by those who work with children. If so, he is more accountable for his actions than the average guy who threatens a woman or beats up on his wife. He's very much in the public eye, and unless he is fully cognisant of his reponsibilities, we're likely to see abusive relations between kids at school continue in the frightful manner we've become used to seeing.
Kids tend to become less aggressive after year 9, statistics tell us. But if they're surrounded by images and patterns of behaviour that validate violence against others we can't hope to see the alarming numbers of assaults by school aged children fall. Footballers are responsible to this 15 year old demographic. Until they can get a hold on their alcohol consumption, and curb it, we're likely to see more assaults like the one that occurred last Friday.
And more arrests. It'll be interesting to see if Stewart is now pulled by the club from the opening match against the Bulldogs. We'll wait until tomorrow, when the shit will have well and truly hit the fan.