Olesen appears in court, denies sexual assault on flight

(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

LONDON (AP) Danish golfer Thorbjorn Olesen appeared in a London court on Monday facing allegations he grabbed a woman's breast, pushed a member of the cabin crew and urinated on a first-class passenger's seat on a flight to Britain from a World Golf Championships event in Tennessee in 2019.

Olesen denied charges of sexual assault, assault and being drunk on an aircraft at the start of a trial at Aldersgate House Nightingale Court.

Olesen, who has won five European Tour events and played in Europe's Ryder Cup-winning team in 2018, was on board the flight with other professionals - including Ian Poulter and Justin Rose - after tying for 27th at the St. Jude Invitational in Memphis.

He said he had no memory of his behavior on the plane after drinking alcohol and taking sleeping pills. He was arrested after arriving at Heathrow Airport on July 29.

Sarah White, a member of the British Airways cabin crew, said in a statement read in court that she tried to direct Olesen back to his seat after he went to the bathroom, where he had struggled to get out by pushing on a pull door.

Olesen is said to have pushed White with his right hand on her shoulder and said: "It's all about you, isn't it?"

"During the flight, Mr. Olesen assaulted me and failed to listen to my instructions," she said. "Through my 27 years of service, I have never come across such bad behavior onboard a flight."

A woman, who cannot be identified because she is an alleged victim of a sexual offense, said in a statement that Olesen grabbed her hand and started to kiss it.

"He would not let go and then nuzzled his face into the nape of my neck. I felt he clearly didn't know what he was doing," she said. "He had his right hand around my back. With his left hand, he then grabbed my breast and moved his hand over my right breast. I felt shocked. He had overstepped the mark."

The court was told the cabin crew intervened and Olesen was eventually taken to his seat with the help of Poulter, but he later woke up and urinated on a seat and the aisle.

In an interview with police, Olesen said he had taken a natural sleeping pill along with other sleeping pills and had five or six drinks, including red wine, beer and vodka with the intention to "knock himself out."

Summarizing the interview, prosecutor Max Hardy said: "He said he felt terrible and embarrassed, and was very sorry."

In a statement, Poulter said Olesen was "in a good mood" and "very jovial" when he boarded the flight. He said he had taken some sleeping tablets but did not give any to Olesen.

"I was unaware of what happened," Poulter said. "I assisted with bringing him back to his seat. He looked a little bit worse for wear and I just assumed he had too much to drink."

Olesen was suspended by the European Tour in August 2019 pending an investigation into his arrest and charges. The suspension was lifted in July last year because of the "unprecedented delay in court proceedings in the U.K. caused by the coronavirus pandemic," the tour said.

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Updated December 6, 2021