Man United defender Jonny Evans arrested by police
Manchester United has declined to comment, but police were expected to update the media on the investigation later on Wednesday.sports Updated: Dec 19, 2007 20:04 IST
Manchester United defender Jonny Evans was being questioned by police on on Wednesday in connection with an alleged rape of a woman at the club's Christmas party. The 19-year-old Northern Ireland international was arrested on Tuesday evening after turning himself into police. A 26-year-old woman was allegedly assaulted early Tuesday at the Great John Street Hotel in downtown Manchester. United players booked the entire hotel for a party on Monday night. "Police are currently investigating a report of rape at a hotel in Manchester city center," Greater Manchester police said. "At about 4:15 am on Tuesday, police were called to the hotel on Great John Street to a report that a 26-year-old woman had been raped. Inquiries are continuing."
A police force member, speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, told The Associated Press that Evans was the 19-year-old man in custody.
'The Sun' newspaper and Britain's Press Association also identified Evans as the man under arrest.
Manchester United has declined to comment, but police were expected to update the media on the investigation later Wednesday. Evans was among the United players photographed leaving the club's Christmas lunch on Monday.
Evans is not a regular in Alex Ferguson's first team, but was handed a Champions League start last week at AS Roma with progression to the next round already secured.
"The manager needs to be able to trust his players," Evans said last week in the Belfast Telegraph. "In everything you do, you try to gain his trust and that of the players around you, so that they know you can do a job, too."
Evans returned to the Premier League champions in the summer after loan spells at Sunderland and Antwerp in Belgium. He played 18 league games for Sunderland last season.
Evans made his first-team debut for United in a League Cup loss to Coventry in September. He played in the 4-0 Champions League win over Dyanmo Kiev last month and the 1-1 draw at Roma. The Belfast-born Evans played for Northern Ireland in the 1-0 loss at Latvia in August in a European Championship qualifier. The United squad, on a high after Sunday's 1-0 Premier League win at rival Liverpool, started Monday's festivities in the private room of a popular downtown casino.
The 35-strong group _ including England stars Wayne Rooney, Owen Hargreaves, Rio Ferdinand and Gary Neville _ was entertained by dancers while having a traditional turkey lunch.
With every move followed by a pack of paparazzi, the players _ minus Cristiano Ronaldo, who was attending a FIFA ceremony in Switzerland _ continued their celebrations around the corner at a pub owned by a soap opera star.
The all-day party, organized by Ferdinand, moved in the evening to the luxurious boutique hotel where champagne, vodka and beer flowed into the early hours.
The players' wives and girlfriends were not invited, while a bevy of young women from across the country were, news reports said. "There was no shortage of attractive female company on the night," wrote Sarah Tetteh, a reporter from the tabloid Daily Mirror, who claimed to be at the party. "And as one of those guests I watched in amazement as Old Trafford's finest proved themselves to be the Premiership's leading party animals."
The players belted out soccer chants and jumped on chairs into the early hours of Tuesday morning _ until the 26-year-old women's rape claim brought the party to an abrupt halt.
Ferguson had granted the players permission for the party after United's successful start to its title defense and Champions League campaign.
Ferguson, who has been in charge at Old Trafford for 21 years, is a tough disciplinarian who takes a hardline stance on his players' nighttime activities. Ferguson struggled in his early years before stamping out the drinking culture in the squad.
There have been a spate of rape allegations against Premier League players in recent years:
Two years ago, Ronaldo was arrested following allegations he raped a woman at a London hotel. Police decided not to file charges due to insufficient evidence.
Arsenal striker Robin van Persie was held in jail for two weeks in 2005 in Rotterdam, Netherlands, after being accused of raping a woman in a hotel room there. The charges were dropped in February 2006.
In 2004, three Leicester City players _ Paul Dickov, Keith Gillespie and Frank Sinclair _ spent six days in a Spanish jail after allegations they sexually assaulted three women in a hotel during a training camp. All charges were dropped.
In 2003, Titus Bramble and Carlton Cole were arrested following an alleged gang rape at a London hotel. No charges were filed due to lack of evidence.
Charges were dropped against ex-Chelsea player Jody Morris and a friend in January 2004 after they were accused of raping a woman in Leeds.