An unusually serious post for a Sunday, but since nobodyreadsme on a Sunday, what the hell.

A footballer, Ched Evans, was jailed in 2012 for the rape of a 19 year old woman. He served 30 months of his five year term when the conviction was overturned on appeal, and a retrial was ordered. This finished on Friday, and he was acquitted.

So far so good. Miscarriage of justice and all that. He can sue the government for up to 500 grand. However…

The female judge, Lady Justice Hallett, ruled that the defence could present testimony from two other men about the woman’s sexual preferences, and about her sexual history. I’m not a lawyer, so I can’t comment with any certitude on the legal justification, but it seems to me that what this woman got up to in her past life is neither here nor there. This sort of evidence can only be construed as an excuse to make out she was a bit of a slapper and that therefore she was a pushover who had regrets later. If that’s not the aim, then why accept it?

Not surprisingly women’s groups are up in arms about the ruling, and I’m with them, but for a different reason. They’re banging on about how this could lead to women having more trouble getting ‘justice’ in sexual assault cases. The tone of the arguments, though, has little to do with justice; it’s all to do with getting a ‘guilty’ verdict at any cost. Justice is a two way street. They seem to be assuming guilt until the man is proven innocent, and that’s not how it works, any more than we can assume ‘guilt’ if the woman has previously put herself about a bit.

In every other type of crime I can think of, the plaintiff’s and the defendant’s past are never revealed to the jury, since the jury is supposed to consider the evidence without preconceptions. I think that Lady Justice Hallett was wrong and has taken the legal system, and women, back a good long way.

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