AFL’s call on Hall of Fame removal

AFL Hall of Fame
St Kilda VFL legend Carl Ditterich has been charged with historical child sex abuse offences. Picture: Ryan Pierse / Getty Images

AFL chairman Richard Goyder says the league will wait for Carl Ditterich’s court case to unfold before making a call on whether to remove him from the Hall of Fame.

Rules introduced last year allow the AFL to oust the former St Kilda champion regardless of the court outcome, but Goyder said the league wouldn’t immediately react.

Ditterich, 78, faces three counts of indecent assault and one count of gross indecency in the presence of a child under the age of 16.

It is alleged Ditterich assaulted the child in Heatherton in Melbourne’s southeast in 1985.

The St Kilda team of the century member was due to appear in Melbourne Magistrates Court on Friday, but his lawyer Tony Hargreaves supplied a letter from Bendigo Health excusing him on medical grounds.

He is due back in court on June 28 for a committal mention.

12/06/1978. Carl Ditterich playing for the St. Kilda Football Club. Australian Rules football.  Neg no. LE20213
Former St Kilda and Melbourne footballer Carl Ditterich could be removed from the Australian Football Hall of Fame as he faces historical child sex abuse charges.

Goyder said on Monday the AFL would allow court proceedings to unfold before coming to a decision on Ditterich’s place in the Hall of Fame.

“We only found out about it on Friday. There’s a court process that will play out,” he said on Monday.

“Obviously, we made amendments last year at a commission level to how we deal with circumstances like that and when there is a finding, so we’ll wait for this court process to unfold and then we’ll determine if there’s any actions.”

The AFL Commission changed its Hall of Fame charter in June last year to allow it to revoke or suspend the membership of past players who have been charged with or found guilty of an indictable offence.

The move came after Hall of Fame Legend Barry Cable was found guilty of the repeated sexual abuse of a young girl during his playing career.

AFL Hall of Fame
D\itterich was inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame in 2004. Picture: Ryan Pierse / Getty Images

It means the league could revoke Ditterich’s membership even if he was found not guilty in court.

Hall of Fame inductees could also be removed under the new rules if they engaged in conduct that the commission decided could “bring the AFL, the Hall of Fame inductee, any AFL club or Australian football into disrepute”.

When the AFL removed Cable from the Hall of Fame, Goyder said the AFL had no option but to respond to the “horrific” findings of the civil suit against him.

“(The) civil case and Judge Herron’s findings make it very clear that as per the rules we enacted … in terms of the Hall of Fame that this is the appropriate thing to do,” Goyder said last year.

“Our thoughts are with the woman involved and others who were courageous enough to come forward in the civil action and air the issues that occurred in their lives.”