Grant Hackett has once again been splashed across front pages, after a fellow plane passenger accused the former Olympian of sexual assault.
The male passenger has told The Daily Telegraph that he was left feeling “unsafe and violated”, after Hackett allegedly “forcefully” groped his chest during a Virgin flight from Adelaide to Melbourne on Sunday morning.
Hackett, who reportedly smelled strongly of alcohol, was questioned by police at Tullamarine airport, but no charges have been laid.
Media reports initially suggested that Hackett had been involved in a mid-air altercation after the passenger seated in front of him reclined his chair. However, the gentleman has denied there was any physical confrontation.
“There was no altercation,” the passenger told The Herald Sun. “I was sexually assaulted by that man.”
“As I reclined my chair he grabbed it and yanked it back. Then he put his hand through and groped my chest and tweaked my nipple quite forcefully,” he said.
"I was shocked and my partner turned round and he asked him what the hell he thought he was doing. Mr Hackett then stroked my arm and said; 'It's OK, it's all right'."
According to The Daily Telegraph, the Sydney-based business executive reported the incident to flight crew and then spent several hours talking to police at Melbourne's Tullamarine airport.
Collingwood CEO Pert, who was sitting next to Hackett on the flight, told Triple M this morning that the incident has been "completely blown out of all proportion".
"One of the passengers in front of him put their seat back and Grant appeared to reach forward and touch him on the back because he wasn't happy about the seat coming back," Pert told Triple M.
"I'm sure he might have had a drink before he got on the flight," Pert told Triple M. "He wasn't aggressive, wasn't looking at causing any trouble. In fact the majority of the flight he was passed out asleep."
via 7 News.
Seven news last night ran an unverified photograph that appeared to show Hackett slumped in an airport-supplied wheelchair, surrounded by police.
“When the flight landed I could see that it would be pretty impossible for him to walk off the flight," Pert told Triple M. "So I just advised the attendants that I knew Grant and knew that he needed some support, so I helped him walk off the flight and when I got into the terminal, and that’s when the Federal Police — obviously they’d been notified — they rolled up and said they’d take things from there,” Pert said.
In a statement yesterday, Australian Federal Police confirmed that a 35-year-old man had been questioned at Tullamarine airport. Investigations are continuing.
The incident comes at an unfortunate time for the swimming superstar. Having recently failed to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, Hackett was reportedly poised to sign an Olympic commentary contract with the Seven Network.