Carl Ditterich
Australian rules great Carl Ditterich has been charged with child sex offences. Image by HANDOUT/SKY NEWS
  • crime, law and justice

Football great charged with historical child abuse

April 12, 2024

Australian rules football champion Carl Ditterich has been charged with historical child sex offences.

The former ruckman, who played 285 games for St Kilda and Melbourne from 1963 to 1980, has been charged with three counts of indecent assault and one of gross indecency.

Bayside Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team laid the charges against the 78-year-old Moama man on April 5 following an investigation into alleged historical child sex offences.

Court documents allege the offences involved a girl under the age of 16 in the southeast Melbourne suburb of Moorabbin on August 27, 1985, after Ditterich had retired from professional football.

The matter was heard in Melbourne Magistrates Court on Friday and is due back in court in late June.

Ditterich was renowned as a hard man and one of the most reported players in AFL/VFL history, appearing before the tribunal on 19 occasions and suspended for 30 matches across his glittering career.

He missed St Kilda’s only premiership in 1966 while serving a six-match ban.

“Probably it would be the overwhelming darkest side of my life in a way,” Ditterich told Seven’s The Front Bar in 2021 when reflecting on not playing in the flag.

“Thank Christ we won the grand final.

“I don’t want to push my own barrow but perhaps I might have made a difference, but it didn’t matter.”

St Kilda's Moorabbin headquarters
 Ditterich is a member of St Kilda’s team of the century after playing 203 games for them. Image by James Ross/AAP PHOTOS 

Ditterich stood as an independent candidate in 1999 for the Victorian state seat of Swan Hill, where his family owned a property.

In 2010, a fire extensively damaged Brisbane’s renowned Broadway Hotel, run by Ditterich and his family.

He is a member of St Kilda’s team of the century after playing 203 games for the Saints across two stints.

Dubbed the Blonde Bombshell, the 193cm big man played his first game for the club aged 17 in what the Saints describe as “one of the most dazzling debuts in league history”.

A profile on St Kilda’s website notes Ditterich was one of the biggest stars of the game from the moment he debuted, a natural athlete who took a backward step for no-one.

“It was amazing that he overcame his childhood disability of knock knees. But it forged in him a grim determination to overcome adversity,” the profile reads.

“He was an exciting and controversial footballer from start to finish and made a rich contribution to the club’s history.”

Ditterich, who also served as captain-coach for Melbourne in 1979 and 1980, was inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame in 2004.

The AFL Commission stripped disgraced legend Barry Cable of his Australian Football Hall of Fame honours in 2023 after a judge found he sexually abused a Perth girl at the height of his playing career.

The North Melbourne (VFL), Perth and East Perth (both WAFL) premiership player had been upgraded to “legend” status in 2012.

A St Kilda spokesperson said the club was aware of the charges against Ditterich but would not comment while the matter was before the courts.

The AFL did not respond to a request for comment.

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

National Sexual Abuse and Redress Support Service 1800 211 028