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How a custody dispute unravelled the biggest sex scandal the NRL has seen in a decade.

Another football scandal is unfolding in the sports pages today. Like others that have gone before it, this one involves accusations of group sex acts, of a “pack mentality” among teammates, of questionable attitudes toward women.

But at its centre, beyond the salaciousness and sordid details, is a custody dispute over a one-year-old boy.

The child, born last May at a Sydney hospital, is that of New Zealand NRL player Bodene Thompson and Belinda Medlyn, an exotic dancer the player had met via Instagram two years earlier.

What is Medlyn alleging?

In a report by The Daily Telegraph the Penthouse Pet has claimed their son was conceived in a Homebush hotel room just hours before a match with the Canterbury Bulldogs, as one of Bodene’s teammates was allegedly watching on.

A paternity test reportedly confirmed Bodene as the father, and when the child was born he was there at the hospital to welcome the little boy into the world.

But according to Medlyn, the 29-year-old Tauranga-born man (who is already father to a seven-year-old from a previous relationship) has only seen his son seven times in the subsequent 16 months, and has been late on multiple child support payments.

How has Thompson responded?

He hasn’t. Not personally at least. The silence has instead been filled by his lawyer, Daniel McGirr, who denied Thompson had failed to meet his financial obligations to the boy.

“He has always sought an active role in his son’s life and doesn’t owe a cent,” McGirr told The Daily Telegraph.

“He is trying to work out an arrangement to see his son more; he lives in New Zealand and can’t just jump on a plane.”

Why is a custody dispute being so widely reported?

The ‘she said, he said’ over this private matter has come cloaked in Medlyn’s other allegations. Chiefly, that the encounter which resulted in their child’s conception just was one in a series of secret rendezvous the pair had over the course of a year, some of which involved group sex with one or two other NRL players.

These consensual encounters, the 35-year-old told The Daily Telegraph, were how the men “bonded” ahead of a match.

“There’s a pack mentality among NRL players,” Medlyn said. “They think they’re rock stars who can do what they want, until it goes wrong.”

This is why Medlyn said she chose to go public, because men and boys continue to hero-worship men like Bodene.

Bodene Thompson. Image: Getty.
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How is the matter affecting his career?

The revelations come at a tricky time for the $260,000-a-year NRL star. He is currently off-contract and yet to find a club for the 2018 season.

His former home, the Vodafone Warriors, will not be taking any action against him, as they view the dispute as "a personal matter".

In a statement released today, the club said CEO George Cameron had been kept "fully informed" about the matter by Thompson and his lawyer and had notified the NRL Integrity Unit.

"George said Thompson had breached team protocol which had been dealt with," the statement read.

"He said the club had received confirmation from Thompson’s lawyer that he was up to date with child support payments, which had also been verified by documentation from the Department of Human Services in Australia."

What has been the response?

Sports reporter Mel McLaughlin this morning described the scandal as "a messy story", one indicative of an ongoing problem with some players viewing women as "objects".

“I don’t think you can have a crack at the governing body, the NRL, per se anymore. I think they do a lot,” McLaughlin told Sunrise.

“It has been an ongoing problem. It’s something for me I saw in school. The attitude, the untouchable attitude. But it’s a two-way street. This is messy. It’s a messy story, the whole thing."

Melbourne 3AW radio commentator Justin Smith told the program he fears what really goes on behind the closed doors of NRL clubs.

“It makes me absolutely sick,” he said. “If that’s what comes to the surface and to the media, what the hell is going on in these locker rooms.”

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