The verdict of a jury last Friday that found Ched Evans not guilty of rape appears to be a devastating setback for justice for rape victims. The footballer admits that he had sex with a woman he barely knew, who was drunk, and to whom he addressed not a word. He was convicted by the first jury to try him in 2011. But at his retrial, the jury decided they could not be certain that the woman had not consented, a verdict they reached after they had heard evidence that she had behaved in a similar manner with two other men at around the same time. Everything about this case stinks. A rich young man who on his own admission behaved in a way that most people would find unacceptable is found not guilty, while his victim, a young woman who was only 19 at the time, has had to move house five times, change her identity twice after Twitter trolls outed her on social media, and now has her alleged sexual history spread over the tabloids.
“A rich young man who on his own admission behaved in a way that most people would find unacceptable is found not guilty”
He was charged with rape not unacceptable behaviour. And what in buggery does his financial situation have to do with it?
It is true that not all the evidence that Mr Evans’ legal team finally won on was available at the first trial. A subsequent appeal against conviction was dismissed. Only after a new legal team was employed was the original evidence reconsidered and the witnesses re-interviewed. A new defence was presented to the Criminal Cases Review Commission. The court of appeal considered the new evidence and decided that it met the condition of “similar fact”: that meant there could be a retrial, and the new evidence of sexual behaviour could be introduced. Explaining her reasons, Lady Justice Hallett admitted she did so with “a considerable degree of hesitation”.
Missed the bit where the conviction was quashed, didn’t they?