‘She was MUZZLED’: Dad of Australian Football League WAG says women need protection after ‘vile’ online abuse over lockdown breach
The wife of an Australian Football League star who caused his club to be fined 45,000 Australian dollars for posting a photo from a spa break has spoken of the abuse she received, with her father accusing the league of negligence.
Brooke Cotchin, the wife of Richmond captain Trent Cotchin, was caught breaking the league’s strict biosecurity protocols when she posted a photo from a day spa on the Gold Coast earlier this month.
Players and club are in an isolation hub as part of an agreement allowing the 2020 AFL season to proceed, and a league investigation led to Richmond receiving the fine with $25,000 suspended, which Cotchin said she and her husband had paid after a furious row broke out.
“I think the AFL and Richmond handled it really poorly,” Rick Kennedy, Cotchin’s father, told Triple M after his daughter had admitted that the vitriol she had been subjected to “blows my mind.”
“They talk today a big game about supporting women, coming in behind women and promoting women.
“What they really did is shut her down and didn’t allow her to go public and take responsibility.
“That took a few days to work its way through…they had a prime opportunity to actually support a woman in a real life case rather than just words.”
The AFL launched their investigation after one of their journalists, Mitch Cleary, reposted Cotchin’s photo from her visit to the spa.
The reporter was subsequently briefly stood down as a result of the scandal, and Kennedy claimed that Cotchin had been told not to comment on her post.
“Effectively, she was muzzled,” he said. “People are making comments and having views without having all the facts.
“If you met people face-to-face, you generally don’t have those conversations. But it is easy on Instagram or Facebook to have a go.”
Cotchin, who faces staying in the hub with her husband and their three young children until season closer the Grand Final on October 24, admitted the family had endured a “really hard time” since her slip-up.
“I was in a very bad place for a little while and it took some time to dig myself out,” she told The Herald Sun.
“Dealing with the lengths of the online bullying was and is something I am learning to try and block out. Some of the vile comments and personal messages were gut-wrenching.
“It breaks my heart that people deal with this on a daily basis. It blows my mind how nasty people can be.
“I just can’t even imagine taking the time to send such horrible messages to someone – nor would it ever cross my mind to, no matter what they did.”
Cotchin has not posted since her apology on Instagram, where she also promotes her “brand for social good” selling personalized socks.
Two of Cotchin’s team-mates, Dylan Grimes and Nick Vlastuin, also revealed this week that they were sent alleged death threats after a win over Essendon, leading to two men being arrested.
“I wish to apologise for the mistake I have made and I am deeply sorry for any angst that I have created for anyone,” his wife said in her public apology, accompanied by a poster-style photo of a shoreline and a quote from Hawaiian philosophy.
“It was an honest mistake and one that I am incredibly remorseful for.”
Cleary admitted that he had been unaware of the guidelines around protecting people who carried out breaches when he reported the story and named Cotchin.
“I know it had been mentioned on radio a couple of times and Brooke herself had obviously posted it to Instagram,” he told ABC Grandstand, adding that the support he had received had been “pretty overwhelming”.
“I’ve had a host of texts and calls and messages from a lot of people who I really respect and it’s been really heart-warming to know that people have got your back.”
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