Pricked by a Rose thorn?

The storm of controversy erupted when paparazzi pictures of 19-year-old Hong Kong starlet Rose Chan being kissed and hugged by fellow actors and co-stars Joe Ma, 43, and Benny Chan, 42, surfaced.

The actors had apparently gone for supper after a day of filming in Hengdian, China.

Another co-star, Timmy Hung, son of gongfu star Sammo Hung, was supposed to have looked out for Rose as she had travelled to the mainland without an assistant. But he was reportedly drunk.

The furore was fuelled by the relative youth of the starlet as well as the pictures, which showed Rose grimacing at being touched.

A teary Rose gave her side of the story at a press conference before reporting the men to the police for molesting her.

Chan initially protested his innocence on his microblog.

He quickly changed his story and apologised publicly when pictures of him groping Rose were published by Oriental Sunday magazine.

Ma, on the other hand, maintained that pictures of him hugging Rose depicted him comforting her after she had been on the receiving end of Benny Chan's drunken misconduct.

Many expressed sympathy towards Rose, including renowned director Wong Jing, whose film the three were shooting. He likened Benny Chan to a "lecher" on his Sina Weibo microblog.

Rose's mentor and producer Checkley Sin called the two men "worse than beasts for bullying a helpless woman".

But as quickly as the sympathy came, it also vanished rapidly when more pictures emerged of Chan smiling during the supper high jinks.

Some are asking if the episode was a publicity stunt for Rose to gain attention.

Why didn't Rose use her gongfu skills when the actors started behaving inappropriately?

She certainly has no lack of them, netizens said.

Others pointed out that Rose was not just any ordinary wing chun exponent; she bagged the silver medal at the 2009 national wushu championships in Hong Kong.

Ironically, days before she held her press conference to open up about being "molested", she was seen at a promotional event demonstrating nifty self-defence moves to flight attendants.

It's not the first time that Rose, who spent five hours lodging a police report on Wednesday, has made headlines as a "victim" of sexual harassment.

In June, she was decked out in hot pants at a function when French eyewear designer Alain Miklitarian's hand reportedly brushed her near her crotch.

Hong Kong press reported Rose as saying that Mr Miklitarian subsequently apologised.

Victims of sexual harassment or molest sometimes suffer lashback, and may feel hesitant about voicing their concerns, says Mr Ian Poulier, associate consultant at The Sel Network, which provides counselling services.

"Sometimes they worry that they're too sensitive, or they may be afraid that people won't believe them, especially if the other party is more senior in the company or social setting."

Days after Chan held a press conference to apologise for behaving inappropriately towards Rose, he met the press again on Wednesday to announce the birth of his baby daughter Ya Ru, reported Hong Kong media.

His baby daughter and wife, Lisa Jiang, a Chinese former-model, share the same birthday.

When asked how his recent scandal had affected him, the first-time father expressed that he did not wish to dwell on the past and only wanted to work hard as well as care for his family.

Ma, who has admitted that the recent scandal upset his wife, said he intends to go on holiday with her after filming his current drama.

This article was first published in The New Paper.