St Kilda have suspended Stephen Milne after the AFL player was charged with four counts of rape.
Saints president Greg Westaway made the announcement at the club headquarters on Wednesday afternoon.
"The board acknowledges this is a most serious matter and one that is distressing to all the parties that are involved," Westaway said, reading from a prepared statement.
"It also recognises that the extended timeframe of the matter and the complexities of the issues involved make it without precedent.
"The board has resolved that in the best interests of all parties concerned, the duty of care that the club has to Stephen and his family, Stephen will remain a listed player, but will take a leave of absence from playing."
Westaway would not comment further.
A separate statement from the club said Milne's leave would be indefinite.
Earlier on Wednesday, Milne trained with his teammates at their Seaford headquarters.
Saints captain Nick Riewoldt and Nick Dal Santo said on Wednesday that they wanted Milne playing in their milestone AFL match on Saturday.
Riewoldt and Dal Santo play their 250th games in the twilight fixture against Melbourne at the MCG, while Sean Dempster reaches 150 matches.
"Milney is the absolute heart and soul of the football club and everyone knows how passionate he is and what the football club in particular means to him," Riewoldt told SEN radio.
"If he feels like he can contribute and he can put it to the side and go out for two hours, which he's stated unequivocally that he's going to be able to do and he wants to do, then I think that's where it should stay."
Dal Santo had also hoped Milne would play against the Demons.
"He's a quality person and we support him fully, and it'd be great to have him out there," Dal Santo said.
But Riewoldt acknowledged that others would starkly disagree with their enthusiasm for Milne to stay in the side.
"Certainly I understand because this a difficult time for everyone," he said.
The charges stem from an alleged incident a few days before the start of the 2004 season.
Milne and fellow Saint Leigh Montagna were investigated and no charges were laid.
But Victoria Police decided to review the case after concerns were raised about the initial investigation.
"Clearly it's rocked him but this has been hanging over his head in one way, shape or form for nine years," Riewoldt said.