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Chiefs in turmoil after new allegations

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 5/08/2016 By Angelo Risso

An inquiry into the alleged mistreatment of a stripper by Chiefs rugby players will be widened after a second stripper came forward on Friday.

Players for the Hamilton-based club are alleged to have hired and subsequently licked, inappropriately touched and short-changed a woman known as Scarlette.

A second woman, Laura, came forward on Friday and told Newshub she was subject to similar treatment from Chiefs players at a 2015 post-season event.

Laura said she was hired to strip for the players but was surrounded, touched and drenched in alcohol.

The Super Rugby franchise launched an investigation into this week's allegations on Thursday before electing on Saturday to expand their inquiries.

Chiefs CEO Andrew Flexman, who was earlier forced to backtrack on comments calling Scarlette's credibility into question, said the 2015 incident would also be probed.

New Zealand Rugby are assisting the club.

"We have told New Zealand Rugby that we will co-operate fully and openly with all aspects of their investigation as required," Mr Flexman said.

Mr Flexman declined on Thursday to rule out terminating player contracts if found guilty of misconduct.

"If it's concluded that any of the allegations are substantiated, we give everyone an assurance that we will be taking the action that's deemed appropriate," he said.

The new allegations cap off an awful week for the Chiefs, whose forward Michael Allardice was forced to apologise on Tuesday for making homophobic comments.

Allardice is said to have shouted "here come the gays" at his teammates while revelling in Mad Monday festivities at Okoroire hot pools.

Margaret Comer, corporate executive of Chiefs sponsor Gallagher Group, was also forced to apologise on Friday for declining to condemn the alleged behaviour.

Ms Comer, a board member of the Waikato Women's Refuge, earlier said she was "reluctant" to criticise the men for touching a woman paid to undress.

"I feel terrible that my poor choice of words have caused hurt and alarm," Ms Comer said in a statement on Friday.

"I most definitely do not condone any kind of mistreatment of women."

The National Council of Women slammed Mr Flexman and Ms Comer's comments, labelling them shameful and disturbing.

The council said the allegations, if proven, amount to sexual assault.

"Taking your clothes off is not a licence to touch, and dismissing the allegations because of the woman's profession is a disgrace," the council said.

A Chiefs fan also took to Youtube to record himself burning a Chiefs jumper in protest against the alleged behaviour.

Peter Mihaere, 53, torched the jersey and encouraged fellow Chiefs fans to follow suit, saying he would no longer support the side.

The subjugation of women as sex objects was abhorrent, the south Aucklander said.

"Over the last couple of days we've discovered there's racism in the team, we've discovered people's values around women are low," Mr Mihaere said.

"I can not stand it any longer."

Mr Mihaere said the players had given the Waikato community "the middle finger" through their alleged actions and tarnished their reputation as community leaders.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has also called on all clubs to ban Mad Monday.

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