‘I’m embarrassed and ashamed’ – Lodge’s grovelling letter
BRISBANE Broncos forward Matt Lodge penned a letter to his American victims apologising for his drunken rampage and has had three compensation offers rejected by US lawyers.
The National Rugby League came under fresh attack yesterday for registering Lodge's contract with the Broncos after his furious US victims spoke out, slamming the NRL's handling of the affair.
Channel Nine last night released footage of Lodge's night of shame in October 2015, when he was arrested by New York police for invading the home of couple Ruth Fowler and Joseph Cartright.
The footage shows Lodge throwing a series of wild punches at Cartright inside the couple's apartment before nine policemen arrive to detain the 116kg forward.
Mrs Fowler and Mr Cartright yesterday blasted the NRL and Lodge, claiming he has never apologised for his actions, nor tried to pay a cent in a $1.6 million damages bill issued against him in a US civil lawsuit.
But the letter, written by Lodge and exclusively obtained by The Courier-Mail, is proof the 23-year-old apologised to his victims, including Fowler and Cartright.
Lodge penned the apology on February 22, 2016 - four months after his New York rampage.
In the letter, sent to New York Assistant District Attorney Christopher Hirsch, Lodge asks for his apology to be passed on to his victims, speaks of his remorse and vows to never offend again.
"Firstly, I want to tell them (the victims) that I am deeply sorry for my actions," Lodge writes.
"My conduct was unacceptable and I take full responsibility.
"I was highly intoxicated that night but the events that led me to that state were immature and easily avoidable. I am embarrassed and ashamed that this incident occurred.
"I remember very little from that night, but I do know right from wrong. I want to make it clear that the person who they saw and encountered on that night is not who I am when I am sober, nor who I want to be.
"While I cannot undo what happened, I can assure them that I will never be involved in another incident like this.
"I am truly sorry for the harm that I caused. Thank you for sending this letter to the victims."
Following his arrest, Lodge spent time in New York's infamous Rikers Island prison. He was originally charged with a felony-burglary-causing-injury count which carried a minimum of five years' jail and a maximum of 25 years.
But in a plea deal signed in December 2015 with prosecutors, Lodge entered a guilty plea to a misdemeanour count of reckless assault.
To avoid a one-year jail sentence Lodge was ordered to complete 200 hours of community service in Australia, receive alcohol abuse and anger treatment, abstain from alcohol and illegal drugs and submit to testing and avoid another arrest.
Since his arrest, Lodge has not consumed alcohol and sends regular urine samples to the NRL.
In an exclusive interview with The Courier-Mail last year, Lodge revealed he had contacted US lawyers with several offers to broker a compensation figure. He says each offer was rejected, with US lawyers suggesting he sign a big-money deal with French rugby clubs.
Lodge's one-year contract this year with the Broncos is worth $85,000.
"I offered to take out a small bank loan to do the right thing and pay them off, but it seems they are just after the big bucks," he told The Courier-Mail.
"I've tried to explain to them that NRL players don't get paid like players in the NFL ... or they would already have their money."
In his letter, Lodge claims he will always carry psychological scars from an incident he will forever regret.
"Not a day goes by when I don't think about what I did," he said.
"Since my release from (a rehabilitation) program in Australia, I am continuing with my outpatient treatment ... I cannot imagine what I put them through that night."
Cartright and Fowler said the footballer who terrorised them and their young son in their home did not deserve to be representing a top-tier football club.
Lodge beat Mr Cartright while Ms Fowler and the couple's then nine-year-old son Harry cowered in a bathroom as he stormed through their apartment breaking furniture. During the attack, which came as the family was sleeping at 4am, Harry said: "Mum, I'm too young to die".
"He has never apologised, he has shown no remorse and he has not taken any responsibility for what he put us through," Ms Fowler said.
"It was terrifying. We were scared for our lives. We are still dealing with it, our son especially.
"We have had to have family therapy and there are little things like he is still nervous when the doorbell rings. And we have to move from a neighbourhood that we lived in for 20 years.
"It was absolutely like something out of a horror movie."
Broncos CEO Paul White said: "He has satisfied the fit-and-proper person test as set down by the NRL, who have ratified his return to the top level of the game.
"Matt has also recently become a father, and is a far more mature and responsible person who has learned from his mistakes, and is truly sorry for what he did.
"The Broncos believe he is now on the right path and will continue to support him in every way going forward."