UPDATE: Police are investigating a complaint that high-profile entertainer Ernie Dingo slapped an 11-year-old boy in the face at Carnarvon Primary School last week.

The incident allegedly happened last Wednesday morning when the actor was in the Gascoyne town for NAIDOC Week, which celebrates Aboriginal history and culture.

It is alleged Mr Dingo allegedly singled the boy out with a comment during the school assembly at which he was a guest speaker following the alleged assault.

The boy’s mother reported the alleged incident to police on Saturday.

Police say Mr Dingo has denied the allegations.

Attempts to contact Mr Dingo were unsuccessful yesterday but Carnarvon Det-Sgt Mark Marshall said an emotional Mr Dingo had phoned him firmly denying the allegations.

“He said he can’t recall the incident and is denying the allegations,” he said.
Det-Sgt Marshall said he had interviewed teachers witnessed the alleged incident.

It is believed the boy was not injured and did not need medical treatment.

But Carnarvon detectives are investigating the report as an aggravated assault because of the age of the alleged victim and because there were other children present.

An aggravated assault carries a maximum penalty of three years’ jail or a $36,000 fine.

Det-Sgt Marshall said teachers told him Mr Dingo was involved in a basketball game the night before (Tuesday night) and was on the opposite team to the boy.

He said as far as he knew the basketball was “quite an enjoyable evening”.

The Gascoyne town’s NAIDOC committee had invited Mr Dingo to give motivational talks to the community and school children.

Committee member Sue Oakley said the allegation was disappointing because she had heard nothing but positive news about the four days Mr Dingo spent in the town. “The kids and the adults loved him,” Ms Oakley said.

Aboriginal elder Maureen Dodd has known Mr Dingo for more than 20 years and said she couldn’t imagine him doing anything like that.

“He’s not a silly man, look at where he’s got to…he wouldn’t be where he is today, if he did silly things like that,” she said.

An Education Department spokesman said the Department would co-operate with any police investigation and was looking into the allegation itself.

The West Australian

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