Jurors have been told to keep an open mind as they prepare to hear allegations that Wallabies star Kurtley Beale sexually assaulted a woman at a pub.
The 35-year-old rugby union playmaker was charged after allegedly sexually assaulting and groping a 28-year-old woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons.
The alleged offences occurred at the Beach Road Hotel near Bondi Beach in December 2022.
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Beale has pleaded not guilty to one count of sexual intercourse without consent and two counts of sexual touching.
A jury was empanelled in Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court on Monday morning for a trial expected to take 10 days.
Crown prosecutor Jeff Tunks said it will be alleged Beale touched the complainant in the public bar before non-consensual oral intercourse took place in the cubicle of a men’s bathroom.
Kurtley Beale arrives at the Downing Centre District Court in Sydney. Credit: Toby Zerna /AAP
Beale’s barrister Margaret Cunneen SC told the jury panel some people in the community leapt to judge sportsmen accused of crimes.
“That’s not the sort of person who we need on our juries in this state,” she said.
Urging the jury to keep an open mind, Cunneen said the allegations against Beale had to be decided on the evidence that was presented.
CCTV footage to be played to the jury would sit at odds with some of the allegations against Beale, Ms Cunneen said.
A jury of seven women and five men was empanelled on Monday morning, with opening addresses and evidence including CCTV footage and the complainant’s witness testimony expected on Tuesday.
Judge Graham Turnbull told the jury Beale was presumed innocent, and the prosecution has the onus of proving its case against him beyond a reasonable doubt.
Shortened sitting hours due to public holidays means the trial will likely stretch over three weeks.
The Waratahs and Wallabies back has made 95 appearances for Australia, as well as playing for English club Wasps and French team Racing 92.
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au.
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