Indian sex scandal creates ruckus
The incident involving an Indian official threatened to overshadow the Games.india Updated: Mar 14, 2006 16:37 IST
A sex scandal involving an official from India threatened to overshadow the Commonwealth Games on Tuesday, with police and organisers on the backfoot over an assault in the Games village.
A 16-year-old girl working as a cleaner was indecently assaulted at the village on Monday and a man is being questioned over the incident, Police Commissioner of Victoria Christine Nixon said.
"We are investigating an assault against a young woman that took place in the village on Monday and we are questioning a 28-year-old man," she said.
"At this stage the investigation is continuing. She is well and in good condition. When we have finished our investigations we will tell the community about them."
The Indian contingent's general manager Gurbir Singh said they were assisting police but said the man denied any wrongdoing.
"We will not take any action till the police investigations are complete. The Indian delegation is assisting and co-operating with the police to get to the truth of the matter," he said.
"It is a very serious allegation which cannot be taken lightly.
"The man has denied he did anything wrong but we will leave it to the police to decide that."
Singh declined to name the accused but he is beleived to be a massage therapist with the team.
Nixon said his passport had been confiscated to prevent him leaving the country, although he remains in the athletes' village,
The maximum penalty for sexual assault is two years in jail.
It was not the start that Commonwealth Games organisers were hoping for, with 10 years of planning and preparations for the event overshadowed by the incident at the first major press conference of the Games.
Justin Madden, Victorian minister for the Commonwealth Games, said in a village so big it was inevitable that incidents would occur.
"It's worth appreciating there are approximately 6,000 athletes and officials in the village, that's the size of a regional town and you'll inevitably have incidents associated with a town of that size," he said.
"But in terms of the village, those at the village say it's the best they've ever seen. To get that mix right, to have that sense of community and comraderie, we believe we have risen to that challenge.
"We're confident that by the end of the Games they will reflect fantastically on Melbourne."
Nixon said there was no reason to increase security at the village.
"We have in place already a very substantial amount of security. We have the latest security measures and we don't think this causes us to up that level of security," she said.
India has brought a 255-strong team to Melbourne for the Games. They are already under a cloud after woman weightlifter Shailaja Pujari tested positive for stanozol, an anabolic steroid, a month before the event.
She was thrown out of the team, as were 12 track and field contenders who failed to attend a pre-Games training camp in India apparantly to escape anti-doping officials who had come calling for random tests.