Sydney - An Australian rugby league player was charged Tuesday for his part in a sex tape saga engulfing the scandal-plagued competition barely a week before the new season kicks off.
Penrith's Tyrone May was charged by police for allegedly filming and sharing images of sexual acts with two separate women on different occasions without their knowledge.
The first incident was alleged to have occurred in February 2018 and the second in May of the same year.
"Police have been told that while the sexual acts were consensual, the women were unaware they were being filmed," New South Wales police said in a statement.
"These recordings were also allegedly disseminated without their consent."
The Penrith Panthers on Monday were forced to "unreservedly apologise" to fans and sponsors following the emergence on social media of a sex tape allegedly involving players.
It came after two similar videos began to appear on Saturday and just days after the sport's bosses toughened rules after a spate of off-field incidents.
The National Rugby League's official news site said Penrith had advised the league's integrity unit that a player from a rival club had released the video of May.
"We are aware of the charges," Penrith chief executive Brian Fletcher told nrl.com.
"I've spoken to Tyrone May and he will vigorously deny the charges."
The charges are the latest in a string of scandals engulfing the troubled league, which has prompted officials to warn of a crack down before the new season starts on March 14.
Canterbury Bulldogs star Dylan Napa was fined 10% of his 2019 salary for appearing in several sex tapes.
Two players were suspended indefinitely last week under a stringent new regime against NRL stars accused of serious crimes.
Under updated rules, players charged with serious criminal offences are now automatically suspended. Previously, they could continue playing while they awaited the outcome of their court cases.
St George Illawarra's Jack de Belin, who is facing sexual assault allegations, and Manly Sea Eagles' Dylan Walker, who is accused of domestic violence, were the first to be suspended under the new rules.AFP