Former England rugby international Steffon Armitage is found guilty of sexual assault after groping a woman outside a bar in France as team-mates told her ‘she should be grateful’
- Steffon Armitage, 34, admitted grabbing the woman’s breasts in the town of Pau
- He was given a suspended six-month jail sentence and ordered to pay €5,000
- His lawyer said he had been drinking heavily after being dropped for a match
Former England rugby player Steffon Armitage has been found guilty of sexual assault and handed a suspended prison term after groping a woman outside a bar in France.
The 34-year-old admitted grabbing the woman’s breasts in late 2018 during a drunken night out in the town of Pau, south-western France, where he was playing at the time.
Carole Sesma, a lawyer for the victim, said her client was still shocked by the attack and disgusted at ‘being treated like a sexual object’.
‘There were comments from other rugby players who said she should be happy to have been touched by someone famous,’ Sesma told reporters. ‘It’s unacceptable to hear that in the 21st century.’
Steffon Armitage, pictured in action for England against New Zealand in 2010, has been found guilty of sexual assault after groping a woman outside a bar in France
Armitage’s defence lawyer said the forward had been drinking heavily after being dropped by Pau for a game against Gloucester the next day.
He said Armitage was also ‘struggling to prepare for his life after rugby and his grandmother had died.’
A court in Pau gave Armitage a suspended six-month jail sentence and ordered him to pay the victim €5,000 euros (£4,400) compensation.
Armitage played for England in 2009-2010, making five appearances, but missed out on other opportunities to represent his country by pursuing his career in France, where he played for Toulon and then Pau.
He was named European Player of the Year in 2014.
During his title-winning stint at Toulon, Armitage was investigated by police and appeared in court over an assault at a restaurant in 2014 which left a 31-year-old man with eye injuries.
The prosecution was dropped in June this year due to a lack of evidence.
Armitage’s contract with Pau ran out at the end of last season and he has signed to play for San Diego in US-based Major League Rugby.
Under French law, suspended jail sentences are not served by offenders unless they commit another crime in the five years following their conviction.