Friday, 4 November 2016

Ched Evans - licentiousness v puritanism

The bedroom activities of the footballer Ched Evans in a Welsh small town hotel demonstrate the confusion in our society about sexual behaviour. On the one hand there is the casual licentiousness of Evans himself, not untypical of the large segment of the population pejoratively labelled as chavs. In contrast there is the puritanical agenda of vocal and influential middle class feminists, eager to police and demonise male heterosexual expression. They came into serious conflict in that hotel bedroom.

The facts of the case have been well publicised. A football chum of Evans picks up a 19 year old young lady in a kebab shop in the early hours of the morning. She agrees to go back with him to a hotel room booked by Evans. Football friend phones Evans that he has pulled a bird for sex at the hotel. Shortly afterwards Evans arrives at the hotel to join in the fun. In other words, an everyday example of no strings promiscuity which the British working class seems no longer to have any qualms about.

Unfortunately for Evans the young lady had left her handbag in the kebab shop and reported the loss to the police. However, in 21st century Britain the police no longer confine themselves to investigating crimes. They also proactively enforce the agenda of zealous feminists to track down and pursue any example of inappropriate sexual advances by heterosexual men. The police discovered that the young lady had been drinking and that she had no memory of the night before. In pursuit of their priority agenda the police then quizzed Evans and his pal about what they were doing in the hotel bedroom. Instead of telling the police to mind their own business they both admitted to consensual sexual activity with the young lady. The pair were then charged with rape on the grounds that the young lady had been drinking and thus could not consent to sex. Evans was convicted and received a five years prison sentence, but his friend was acquitted.

Evans served 30 months of his sentence and was then let out on licence. His hopes of resuming his football career were dashed as a result of a vociferous campaign on social media by strident feminists, who insisted that a convicted rapist was an unacceptable role model for young people, who should never be allowed to play professional football again. As a result of this continuing media storm job offers with several clubs were withdrawn. In contrast a former Manchester City footballer who was convicted of dangerous driving, speeding at almost twice the limit in an urban area and resulting in the deaths of two people, has since his release played football professionally. He is reported as having shown no remorse, but needless to say there has been no orchestrated campaign by the usual suspects to question his suitability as a role model. In contrast to the savage sentence handed down to Evans this footballer received a mere 16 months for his reckless, dangerous and lethal behaviour.

Evans himself consistently protested his innocence claiming that the young lady had consented. This proclamation of innocence was held against him by the feminists as it indicated his lack of remorse, and failure to accept responsibility for his actions and the damage that he had caused to his 'victim'. It should be remembered that the young lady never claimed that she had been raped, only that she had no memory of the encounter due to the amount of alcohol she had consumed.

Evans appealed his conviction but was unsuccessful. However he retained the support of his family, his girlfriend's family and a large number of football fans. Eventually, after release from prison the Criminal Cases Review Commission agreed that new evidence made his conviction unsafe, and referred the case to the Appeal Court who this time ordered a retrial. At his second trial the jury, which included seven women, unanimously found him not guilty after a relatively short deliberation.

In the past when there has been a miscarriage of justice, left wing activists and politicians rejoice at the release of the innocent, and denounce in no uncertain terms the behaviour of the police and condemn the corruption inherent in the judicial system. Witness the long campaigns to free the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four. But in the case of Ched Evans the reverse has occurred, they claim that the justice system has failed, what they falsely continue to describe as, the 'victim'.

Some feminists have reacted with outrage against the acquittal claiming that it has set back rape trials thirty years. Vera Baird, notoriously hard line sex crime campaigner whose day job is a police commissioner, fears that rape trials could now 'become inquisitions into a complainant’s sex life'. She pointed out that in Evans’ case, the court of appeal decided it was 'relevant and admissible' that the young lady had engaged in separate sexual encounters with two men, around the time of the Ched Evans incident. On each occasion she had consumed a lot of alcohol, and had been an enthusiastic participant, directing the nature of the sexual activity. She used a similar phrase in encouraging her partner on both occasions to be more forcible, and with each of them sought a particular sexual position. Evans had previously claimed that she had behaved in a similar manner with him. Since this was regarded as her normal sexual preference, it supported his case that she had also consented with him. Baird argues that this 'similar evidence' is an abuse of the legal system as it lowers the threshold to the very strong presumption against quizzing complainants about their sexual history.

Whilst it is clearly right that the sexual history of either the defendant or the accuser should not be routinely called in evidence in rape trials, it does not follow that it should always be excluded. There are clear instances, such as in the Evans case, were the interests of justice are best served, when previous relevant and similar sexual activity must be presented to the jury, to allow them to reach a decision on the full facts of the case. So there should be no change in the law, as many women Labour MPs are now seeking, to confine sexual history evidence to only when the similar conduct is unusual and out of the ordinary. This would be far too restrictive and would put the defendant at a serious disadvantage in effectively challenging the case presented by the prosecution. If anything the current criteria on revealing previous sexual history should be broadened to ensure that relevant background facts are not withheld from the jury.

One commentator described the inherent injustice of this case as 'exposing the absurdity of an accusation being brought by the state, when evidence to support its central premise - lack of consent - is itself sorely lacking. Accounts of events are given by the two accused, but as the law allows the state to assume that someone too drunk to remember was likely to be too drunk to consent, the onus is then on the accused to 'prove' their accounts are correct, a complete reversal of the burden of proof.'

Many commentators have denounced the behaviour of Ched Evans as deplorable and reprehensible. They may well have a point, but the reality is that these days many people appear to have no problem in seeking casual sex, and that the media in its various forms frequently affirms this outlook. Some pundits have pointed out that the behaviour of the young lady in question was little different to the two footballers, so it is a little one-sided to heap all the censure on the men, since it takes two to tango. Also, the same feminists who denounce Evans as predatory are silent in the face of the extreme promiscuity demonstrated by many homosexual men. But of course to question their lifestyle would be 'homophobic' and that would never do.

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