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Indian masseur charged with indecent assault
Julien Linden | March 14, 2006 18:29 IST
Australian police charged a member of India's Commonwealth Games support staff on Tuesday with two counts of assault against a teenage girl.
A 16-year-old cleaner at the official Games athletes village had lodged a complaint on Monday, two days before the Games open.
Police said they had charged a 35-year-old man with one count of indecent assault and one count of unlawful assault. He was released on bail but had his passport confiscated.
Earlier report: Indian masseur suspended, to appear in court
"The man, a masseur with the Indian team, was interviewed and charged today," a police spokeswoman said.
He will appear at Melbourne Magistrates Court on Wednesday.
The Indian team had suspended the masseur from his duties during the investigation. He was ordered to leave the village and hand back his accreditation after the charges were filed.
"Should this allegation be proved, the Indian Olympic Association will take the strongest possible action," Indian team chef-de-mission H.J. Dora said in a statement.
Conviction on an indecent assault charge carries a maximum penalty of two years in jail in Victoria.
The timing of the investigation could not have come at a worse time for organisers, with Queen Elizabeth II due to open the Games after weeks of negative publicity following the withdrawal of Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe and slower than expected ticket sales.
But Victoria's Commonwealth Games Minister Justin Madden said it was inevitable there would be some incidents in a village housing about 6,000 athletes and officials.
"That's the size of a regional town and you'll inevitably have incidents associated with a town of that size," he said.
Nixon also played down concerns about the security arrangements in the village in suburban Melbourne, saying there were no plans to review or increase security in light of the allegations.
Australia is staging one of its largest-ever security operations for the Games, with 13,000 police and 2,500 defence personnel and private security guards either directly involved or on standby.
"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," Nixon said.