Zeenews Sports Bureau
New Delhi: Controversies were always part of the lucrative Indian Premier League since its inception but it hit a new low on Friday when Australian player Luke Pomersbach of the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) team was arrested for allegedly molesting an American woman in a five-star hotel in the capital and beating up her fiancé.
The Charge against Pomersbach
Pomersbach is alleged to have molested Zohail Hameed at the ITC Maurya Hotel here. Her fiance Sahil Peerzada, who is in his 30s, was beaten up by the player when he tried to stop him. The 27-year-old player has been booked under the sections 354 (outraging modesty of woman), 323 (hurt), 454 (lurking house trespass) and 511 (Punishment for attempting to commit offences punishable with imprisonment for life or other imprisonment) of the Indian Penal Code. He was produced at the Patiala House Court, where he fainted and had to be taken out of the courtroom. Pomersbach has been granted interim bail till Saturday.
According to the victim, the incident reportedly happened after the Delhi Daredevils-Royal Challengers Bangalore match on Thursday evening when Pomersbach, along with some others, joined them for a drink during the post match party.
"A US national, staying at Hotel Maurya, was molested by Luke Pomersbach, an Australian player of RCB, when they were partying in her room," Delhi Police said in a statement. When she objected and her fiance tried to protect her, Pomersbach allegedly landed punches on the fiance`s head following which he has been admitted to a private hospital for treatment.
Hameed said that Luke forcibly entered her room and tried to molest her. "He gave me a nasty look and it seemed that he will rape me. I got scared, and I ran out of the door. I went straight to the elevator and asked for the security cops who said `It`s going to be fine. My fiance was beaten profusely and there was blood all over the place, and I was running back and forth to help him," said Hameed.
"The whole IPL team came here in the morning and they have been telling me to drop the case. I need the Indian government to help me," Hameed said.
‘I was under pressure’
"The whole IPL team came here in the morning and they have been telling me to drop the case. I need the Indian government to help me," she said. "I was under pressure and threatened by 5-6 men to backtrack from the case."
Pomerbasch’s counsel told the court that the player was invited for drinks and beaten up by Hamid`s finance. The defence also maintained that Pomerbasch didn`t go inside with intention of offense. According to a report, Pomersbach maintains he entered the room with the woman`s consent.
She was all over me: Sid Mallya
Tweeting on the controversy, RCB owner Sidhartha Mallya said: "if Luke is in the wrong, then trust me he will face the necessary sanctions. But what this girl is doing is idiotic."
In another tweet, in what could be interpreted as derogatory, he said: "The girl who is accusing Luke is saying he hit her `fiance`...what a load of f****** s***. She was all over me last night and asked for me bbm pin, so if he was her fiance she wasn`t exactly behaving like a future wife."
Later, Sidhartha defended his tweet but said that he was not questioning her character but merely stating a fact. "I don`t take any comments back. The tweet was in response to what she has said and I don`t think there is anything wrong in that," he told a TV channel.
"I maintain that if Luke is in wrong he would face the necessary sanctions. I don`t think it is derogatory because I heard that the lady is speaking about beating up her fiance. The guy was not exactly her fiance. Luke is my player and RCB is like one family. So I would of course try and protect my player. But I maintain that I haven`t spoken to him yet", he said
The victim said that she would sue Royal Challengers Bangalore owner Siddharth Mallya for defamation.
Pomersbach no stranger to brawls
Luke Pomersbach has a history of getting caught on the wrong side of the law since making his debut for Western Australia in 2006. Pomersbach had last year decided to skip the domestic season citing "health and well-being" reasons.
He had earlier, in 2008-09, represented Kings XI Punjab in the IPL, scoring just over 150 runs from five outings for the franchisee.
Few months later, in August 2009, the cricketer narrowly escaped jail sentence after he admitted to assaulting a police officer who was trying to arrest him for drunken driving.
However, the Western Australian Cricket Association banned Pomersbach from representing the state in any form of cricket until the end of the 2010-11 season. The left-hander was also fined USD 10,000 by the WACA and was asked to strictly adhere to the terms of his playing contract.
The association also said his comeback would be made possible only if he attends all medical and counselling sessions as required by the WACA. Earlier in the same year, Pomersbach had been suspended and fined after failing to show up for an intra-squad practice match at Stevens Reserve in Fremantle.
In 2007, Pomersbach and Shaun Marsh were suspended indefinitely after a late-night drinking session in the lead-up to a state match.
Vijay Mallya regrets
RCB owner Vijay Mallya said he regretted the incident. "RCB will give full cooperation to authorities for fair investigation and so that the case if disposed of in accordance with law. He (Pomersbach) won`t be taking the field till the matter is sorted out."