Danushka Gunathilaka Found “Not Guilty” in Sexual Assault Trial, Reports Confirm
Sri Lankan cricketer Danushka Gunathilaka has been acquitted of sexual assault charges related to a Tinder date during the T20 World Cup 2022 in Australia.
Danushka Gunathilaka Acquitted of Sexual Assault Charges in High-Profile Trial
Sri Lankan cricketer Danushka Gunathilaka, who had been accused of sexual assault during a Tinder date while in Australia for the T20 World Cup 2022, has been declared “not guilty” in a highly publicized trial.
The allegations against Gunathilaka, aged 32, stemmed from an incident in November 2022, where he was accused of assaulting a woman in Sydney after a Tinder date.
Judge Sarah Huggett, presiding over the case at Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court, delivered the verdict, stating that Gunathilaka had been truthful in his statements to the police. She explained that there was no opportunity for the accused to remove the condom during the continuous intercourse, as the evidence indicated.
“The evidence establishes that there was no opportunity for the accused to remove the condom during intercourse because that intercourse was continuous,” Judge Huggett noted in her verdict. She added, “There is no reason at all to reject or disbelieve what he said in that interview.”
In contrast, Judge Huggett found discrepancies in the complainant’s statements, who cannot be named due to legal restrictions, and noted that she did not have a clear memory of the events. Huggett suggested that the complainant might have been motivated by a desire to portray the cricketer negatively.
Expressing relief at the verdict, Gunathilaka expressed gratitude to his legal team, parents, and supporters who stood by him during the challenging 11 months. “I’m happy that my life is returning to normal, and I can’t wait to get back to playing cricket,” he told reporters.
Following his arrest, Gunathilaka, who has represented Sri Lanka in over 100 matches, including eight Tests, was suspended from competitive cricket. While he was on bail during the trial, he was unable to participate in international cricket or return to his hometown of Colombo.
The allegations arose after Gunathilaka and the woman matched on the dating app Tinder and met for drinks at Opera Bar in November 2022. They subsequently had dinner together in the Sydney CBD and took a ferry to the woman’s residence in the eastern suburbs.
The woman accused Gunathilaka of various acts of aggression and violence, including slapping her buttocks, forcefully kissing her, causing bruising to her lips, and choking her during sexual intercourse.
Initially, the police had brought four charges against Gunathilaka, including multiple counts of rape. However, only one count of “stealthing” proceeded to trial.
In a critical assessment, Judge Huggett expressed concerns about the conduct of the police in prosecuting Gunathilaka, deeming it “very concerning” and “far from satisfactory.