Here we go again.
Just days after Michael LeVell was acquitted of raping a young girl, who claimed the actor had abused her when she was only six years old, we have an entire trial collapsing in the face of new evidence against the nine accused men.
According to the crown prosecutor, a Twitter feed came to light that has basically destroyed the prosecution’s case.
The precise content of the Tweets was not disclosed to the Old Bailey, but prosecutor Samantha Cohen said they had been reviewed at the ‘highest level.’
‘The consequence of the review of that material which has been conducted at the highest level is that there is no longer a realistic prospect of a conviction of any defendant on any charge on the indictment,’ she said.
‘For that reason the Crown offer no evidence against the defendants in this case.’
Wow. That must have been some Twitter feed.
Given the fact that evidence has come to light that ALL the charges all complete bullshit, you would think the media would have some sympathy for the accused. Nope. All the men’s names, who range in age from 21 to 30, are published in the reports.
The false accuser, of course, retains her anonymity.
Peter Lloyd, whom I believe may be the only journalist in the British popular press who covers issues from a men’s rights perspective, has written a column in which he discusses the very real consequences of naming and shaming men accused of gut-churning sexual crimes, who are then later exonerated.
…like thousands of men all over the world, Le Vell’s life has already been destroyed by a system which considers men’s innocence a bonus – not a baseline. And it has to end.
The case not only proved that pre-conviction identification doesn’t work, but reiterated a very pertinent question: why, in our best-ever age of equality and human rights, are men still being denied their right to anonymity ahead of a guilty verdict?
It is – quite frankly – inhumane and has no place in a civilised society.
Peter quite rightly argues that people are irrationally prejudiced against certain men, for a variety of reasons, and will convict that man in their minds regardless of what a jury concludes.
Haters across the world will decide that he is guilty by default. That he is a rapist simply because he is male. Or working class. Or an alcoholic. Perhaps even all three. They will gather around the water cooler and say: ‘there’s no smoke without fire’ or ‘he looks the type’.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is precisely why a court of law, not a casual observer who is not armed with all the evidence, should convict a defendant.
In fact, the law in the UK used to extend anonymity to the accused for the simple reason that rape and sexual assault are special crimes with a unique ability to destroy the accused’s life. Prior to 1976, the accused were protected, but the law changed in 1988, ostensibly to assist police in their investigations. Not everyone in the British judiciary agreed with that change. Lord Corbett, who introduced the 1976 mutual pre-trial anonymity law, argued that:
Rape is a uniquely serious offence and acquittal is not enough to clear a man in the eyes of his family, community or workplace. He is left with this indelible stain on his reputation. The case for matching anonymity for the defendant is as strong now as ever
Julie Bindel, one of the most heartless and rabid feminist journalists in Britain had a good sneer at the idea that being accused of rape could have any negative consequences for the accused.
In reality, rape is not really seen as a heinous crime, only those cases Whoopi Goldberg notoriously described as, “rape-rape”. Indeed, the most commonplace rapes – those committed by partners, friends, acquaintances, family members and work colleagues – are often not considered rape at all, which is why the vast majority never get to court or are acquitted if they do.
A fair number of celebrities including footballers, musicians, actors and authors have been accused of rape in the past and do not seem to have suffered longer term. To say that an accusation ruins lives is perhaps a sweeping generalisation.
No, Julie, you have that exactly ass-backwards. Rape is indeed seen as a heinous crime, which is why juries tend to require EVIDENCE before they are willing to convict a man for an offense that will haunt him for the rest of his life. Rich men tend to escape the consequences?
Tell that to Roman Polanski. Or Julian Assange.
But in the rush to protect men from the consequences of a false or unprovable allegation, I think that Peter is missing an opportunity to protect men from a false allegation happening in the first place.
Why not name the women who make the accusations?
It took ELEVEN false accusations and a decade before the delightful Elizabeth Jones was jailed for falsely accusing men she didn’t like of raping her.
While the Telegraph doesn’t name the accused, at the time the crimes were alleged, they would have been well within their rights to do so, all the while protecting Lizzie’s identity.
It took eight years and five false allegations against men who dared to break up with her before Leanne Black was finally jailed, too.
Linsey Black picked a man she didn’t even know off a Facebook page and accused him of raping her, quite nicely destroying his life in the process.
Eventually, Lizzie, Leane and Linsey will get out of jail, and will no doubt be looking about for their next boyfriends.
Let’s hope those boyfriends know how to use Google, huh?
Forcing women to own their accusations by making their identities public provides a valuable public service by letting men known just what their Princesses have been up to in the past. When some little chickie decided to accuse Jose Consenco of rape, he immediately took to Twitter to defend himself by revealing his accuser’s name.
I wonder what happened to that case?
Oh, look. The woman was so intimidated and frightened when Jose posted her details she withdrew all charges. Jose took a lie detector test and passed and the police closed the case.
And what happened to cupcake who claimed Jose drugged and raped her?
Except that now any man who decides to take cupcake for a spin knows just what cupcake is capable of, thanks to Jose.
The obvious objection to revealing the names of the accusers is that it will make women even more afraid to bring forth accusations. Is that really such a bad thing? Perhaps women should be reminded that accusations of rape are very serious indeed, and they should never, ever be alleged without evidence. Charging a man with rape should come with some serious consequences for the accusers, including being named and shamed along with the accused.
The only argument against revealing the name of the accuser that holds any water with me is that women who really were raped and who have secured a conviction against the accused may not want the details of a very terrifying ordeal made public for every person they will ever meet who has access to the internet to know about. Rape is an enormous violation and I can completely understand that women who have experienced it might wish to keep that private.
And that is what it comes down to. Privacy. Only convicted criminals should be forced to surrender their privacy, especially when it comes to allegations of sexual misconduct and assault. The very basic premise of our entire justice system is that the accused are innocent until proven guilty, and it is only the guilty who should face the court of public execution.
Women who are raped and who can prove that in a court of law are not guilty of anything, nothingwithstanding having deliberately put themselves in a vulnerable position. Their right to privacy remains intact.
Which means that Peter is right. Anonymity for the accused protects the accused from being assumed guilty. It assures that justice is carried out.
The overwhelming majority of men are not rapists – not by a long shot, and the law must remember this.
It is true that affording anonymity to men accused of rape who really are guilty but walk away because there is insufficient evidence for a conviction are then free to go on and rape others, and future victims have no way of knowing that previous allegations of assault have been lodged, but that is true for accusers, too. Women who have falsely accused men of rape will not have their identities revealed, and their future victims will also have no way of knowing that previous false allegations have been lodged.
But that is the price that we all pay for adhering to the basic premise of justice.
innocens nisi probetur nocens
Innocent until proven guilty
It is better that ten guilty escape than one innocent suffer.
It’s still a good idea to Google your dates, though. You never know what Twitter might reveal.
And you can subscribe to Peter Lloyd’s RSS feed here. He always has something interesting to say.
Lots of love,