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Wednesday, May 22, 2024
Wednesday May 22, 2024
Wednesday May 22, 2024

Rugby star Api Ratuniyarawa jailed for sexual assaults in Cardiff nightclub

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Fiji International and Barbarians player sentenced to over two years for assaults on three women

In a shocking development, Fiji international rugby player Api Ratuniyarawa has been sentenced to more than two years in prison for multiple sexual offences committed in a Cardiff nightclub. The 37-year-old forward, who was set to play for the Barbarians, was charged just hours before the scheduled match against Wales at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.

Ratuniyarawa, along with fellow rugby players, had been on a three-night drinking spree leading up to the Barbarians’ fixture. The Cardiff Crown Court heard that the assaults took place at the Revolution nightclubs in the Welsh capital, where the rugby star had been socializing with other international players.

Prosecutor Heath Edwards presented three CCTV clips showing separate incidents of assault inside the Revolution nightclub. The first clip depicted Ratuniyarawa attempting to kiss a victim who was clearly resisting and trying to move away. The second clip, from the following night, showed the rugby star, described as “clearly intoxicated,” groping another victim. The third clip displayed him picking up a third victim onto his lap before sexually assaulting her.

All three victims, aged 19, reported the assaults to the police, and the court heard impact statements detailing the severe consequences of the attacks. One victim described the assault as “shocking” and “very painful,” expressing how it had changed her life. Another victim spoke about the impact on her identity, self-worth, and confidence, emphasizing the shared trauma among victims. The third victim revealed leaving her job and experiencing suicidal thoughts as a result of the attack.

Ratuniyarawa pleaded guilty to two charges of assault by penetration and one of sexual assault. His defense counsel, Ruth Smith, acknowledged his genuine remorse and deep shame, asserting that he takes full responsibility for his actions. The judge, Recorder of Cardiff Tracey Lloyd-Clarke, recognized Ratuniyarawa’s remorse but sentenced him to two years and 10 months in prison. Additionally, a three-year restraining order was granted to one of the complainants.

The Barbarians, upon being contacted by South Wales Police, cooperated fully and refrained from commenting further due to the ongoing investigation. Ratuniyarawa, previously playing for London Irish, had been named in the Barbarians’ squad for the Wales game but was withdrawn from the match before kick-off.

The incident raises concerns about the behavior of athletes off the field and highlights the broader issue of ensuring accountability for individuals in positions of influence.

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