By: Jesse Donathan
There was an eerie silence within the mixed marital arts media; whispers and rumors were circulating throughout social media concerning reports which suggest, “that a well-known sportsperson has been accused of sexual assault,” and “that the star, who has remained unnamed, was on a two-day drinking binge in advance of the attack” according to a December 12, 2018 rt.com article titled, “‘Wild-eyed’: Irish sports star accused of sexual assault engaged in two-day ‘bender’.” The article would go on to state, “the woman is understood to have received physical injuries, including bruising and bleeding, in the attack. No arrests have yet been made.” On Tuesday, March 26, 2019, the social media rumors seemed to have been confirmed as the New York Times published an article titled, “Conor McGregor Under Investigation Over Sexual Assault Allegation in Ireland” by author Tariq Panja.
Photo Credit: Conor McGregor Twitter Account
According to a January 18, 2019 irishcentral.com article titled, “Irish sports star accused of rape and assault arrested and released” the unnamed Irish sports star “presented himself to police at Dundrum Garda Station on Thursday night, having made an appointment. He was accompanied by his lawyer.” A Garda spokeswoman told the Irish Mirror:
“Gardaí [Irish police] in Dundrum investigating an alleged sexual assault reported on Monday 10th December 2018 arrested a man on Thursday 17th January 2019.”
The irishcentral.com article would go on to state that according to one police source, “there is no doubt that this young lady suffered a horrendous ordeal – the examinations and all the evidence shows that she was raped and very badly assaulted in that penthouse suite.”
“Speculation is rife on social media as to the identity of the sports star who can’t be named in Ireland for legal reasons,” writes Niall Connor in his December 12, 2018 irishmirror.ie article titled, “Woman ‘raped’ by Irish sports star in Dublin has ‘partner and young child’.”
In a January 18, 2019 irishtimes.com article titled, “Sportsman arrested over alleged sex assault in Dublin” author Conor Gallagher and Ronan McGreevy write that the unnamed sportsman was, “detained under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act 1984 before being released without charge. A file on the matter is being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions and the investigation is ongoing.”
In an unrelated, separate matter, a November 28, 2018 rte.ie article titled, “Man convicted over breach of anonymity in Belfast rape trial” writes that, “a man in his 30s has been convicted in Northern Ireland after admitting that he used social media to publish the name of a complainant in a high-profile rape trial earlier this year. In a statement, the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) for Northern Ireland said that Sean McFarland appeared in court in Belfast today and pleaded guilty to one charge of breaching a ban on reporting the identity of an alleged victim.” Marianne O’Kane, head of the PPS serious Crime Unit is quoted as stating, “we would also ask the public to take extreme care when publishing any type of commentary on any live court proceedings, given the potential risk of prejudice to a fair trial.”
“People standing trial for rape should not be identified unless they are found guilty, Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MP Ian Paisley has said. It follows the high-profile trial of rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding who were acquitted of rape. Mr. Paisley called for a change in the law to give the accused the same right to anonymity as a rape complainant,” writes the BBC in their March 29, 2018 article titled, “Ian Paisley says raped accused should have anonymity.” The article would go on to quote Mr. Paisley as saying, “No party should be identified in advance of the verdict and only then when there is a guilty verdict.”
The New York Times report comes on the heels of Conor McGregor’s arrest in Miami following an altercation with a fan where McGregor is alleged to have taken liberties with the fans phone resulting in the UFC stars arrest for strong armed robbery according to March 11, 2019 Miami Herald report by David Ovalle.
McGregor burst onto the UFC scene in 2013, going on to become a two-division champion while virtually being the face of organization. Coincidentally, McGregor announced his retirement from the sport Tuesday, March 26, 2019 hours prior to the New York Times article running. The announcement was widely viewed as a faux move, with McGregor holding out from competing in the UFC in a bid to attain partial ownership from the organization. The betting man might come to a different conclusion however, with McGregor’s retirement announcement likely being a strategic move in an attempt to smoke screen and stem the tide of news in the United States of his investigation for sexual assault in Ireland. At any rate, this is bad publicity for the UFC and heartbreaking news to the legions of Conor McGregor fans around the globe.