“I want to start the programme with a profound apology. On Friday, September 8, I made comments about rape on the programme which were totally inappropriate and unacceptable and I should never have made them.”
“I realise that those comments spread widespread hurt and offence and, for this too, I am truly sorry.”
“I would particularly like to apologise to all victims of rape, their families, the representatives of organisations who work day and night to reduce the stigma around rape.”
“And also for those who try and increase reporting of crimes involving sexual violence against men and women.”
“It was wrong of me to suggest that any blame could be attributed to those victims or that they bear any responsibility in the crimes committed against them. By doing that, I played a part in perpetuating the stigma and I unreservedly apologise for doing so.”
“Everybody has the right to enjoy themselves without fear of being attacked and, as a society, we have a duty to our daughters and granddaughters to protect that right.”
“On Friday, I failed in that duty of care, a failure I deeply regret and, for which, I am truly sorry.”
You’ve shared my videos a few times, this is one about a poem (‘Numb’) you’ve previously published which was trolled quite horrifically. It’s called Unsolicited Advice from a Failed Male Poet. And there was an article put up on the Guardian about it for a bit of background.
In the Sunday Business Post, at the weekend, Elaine Byrne wrote about how, at 3am one morning, two men chased her in an attempt to attack her.
Recalling the event, Ms Byrne wrote:
The gardaí came. They said I shouldn’t be out so late and dropped me home.
I never really told anyone about this incident. The narrative would have been predictable. Were you drinking? “No.” Well, you should have known better anyway. You shouldn’t have been out so late. What were you wearing? Somehow, it would have become my fault. I was wrong. What did I expect at that hour of the night? There was no Garda report, no incident recorded for the statistics. Nothing.
Ms Byrne added:
I sat through my friend’s rape trial. I watched her on the stand being cross-examined by a barrister and heard him say the most disgusting line I have ever heard in the English language.
“Your injuries are consistent with the straddling of a gate. Did you straddle a gate?”
Because that’s what women do for fun. We straddle gates.
This morning, on Newstalk Breakfast, Niamh Ní Dhomhnail spoke to Chris O’Donoghue.
The interview followed yesterday’s decision by Justice Patrick McCarthy, in the Central Criminal Court, to give Niamh’s former boyfriend Magnus Meyer Hustveit a seven-year suspended sentence – after he admitted to regularly raping and sexually assaulting her in her sleep, often while she was under the influence of medication.
Niamh waived her right to anonymity to allow Hustveit be named.
When Niamh read her victim impact statement in the court she said had to give up her job; had tried to take her own life; and had suffered from post traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders and anxiety.
Niamh Ní Dhomhnail: “I suppose I’m still very shocked at the ruling. I think it’s a lot of take in and, I suppose for me, and I think this is true of the people who were there to support me. The ruling took, the judge took his time in giving the ruling. He seemed to be very cognisant of the fact that what Magnus really did was quite serious which I didn’t actually think was going to happen at all and in the end of it it seemed to happen very fast in that he acknowledged in principle the severity of Magnus’ actions but, in reality and practical terms, that acknowledgement seemed to mean nothing with a fully suspended sentence. So I think I’m left reeling, I think my parents are too, and all of my friends were there to support me and they’ve been in touch, and I think also and the reason I’ve gone forward is because its absolutely so much bigger than me and it’s so much bigger than just this case because this sends such a clear message to Irish society that rape isn’t rape and sexual violence is not being taken seriously enough. And so yeah I’m really probably not sure how I feel about this.”
Chris O’Donoghue: “Do you feel justice was done?”
Ní Dhomhnail: “No, and I don’t think anyone could. And realistically I suppose I never entered into the legal system, seeking justice, because I don’t know how you would define justice in this kind of situation but, certainly, a concrete acknowledgement that these actions have had an impact on you and that inaudible an eye for an eye or anything like that, I think it’s only fair that when you do wrong, you bear consequences of some sort and, from what I understand, this has had no impact on his life. He’s able to have been in a seemingly very committed relationship within a month of me leaving him. He apparently has been in steady employment the whole time, his employers know about his actions, apparently. And they have publicly said to the court that they’re willing to take him back and that they’d hope that he wouldn’t serve prison time, or the less prison time the better because he’s so irreplaceable in his work and, for me, I haven’t been able to work for quite some time, I’ve been physically unwell, mentally, just drained, so it’s hard to think there’s any justice in that really because it seems his life has just continued, this was like a minor blip and everything is fine for him and I can’t quite say that that’s true of my life.”
O’Donoghue: “Somebody who commits any rape, never mind multiple rapes, getting a suspended sentence and there are people criticising this in the newspapers today but can that ever be, I suppose, can people ever be at peace with the suspended sentence for this crimes?”
Ní Dhomhnail: “I don’t think so. Obviously, I still don’t know, I can’t quite articulate yet, I don’t have the feelings yet to articulate how I feel about it. But certainly, looking at people around me, certainly this is not the first time this has happened. I think it sends a very clear message to victims not to bother to come forward and I think actually, maybe this is, maybe mildly off topic, but it’s something that’s been in my head since yesterday. The justice system is actually creating, it’s kind of creating or paving a way for people to a) not report and b) take matters into their own hands because if you consistently see big cases not being brought to justice in the way that we would like, you know, a complete suspended sentence is what I mean by that – people will just say well there’s no point in going through that hassle, there’s no point in going through that heartbreak, we may as well just take matters into our own hands and that’s actually a very frightening thought but I can imagine a lot of people entering into that mindset, if that answers your question.”
O’Donoghue: “Yeah because, like you said, not everyone is going to be able to speak the way you can and waive their anonymity the way you have so the sentiment of ‘don’t bother’ as you’ve said there might just set in.”
Ní Dhomhnail: “I think so and the statistics are there from the rape crisis network, the rape crisis centre, that most victims do not report what’s happened to them and I was always considering going forward and waiving my right to anonymity because of the unusual nature of this case. I mean that’s what was always said to me, I don’t think this case was unusual because of the actions itself, I think this case was unusual in that it was prosecuted and I wanted to raise awareness that rape within sleep is still rape; it’s not just some stranger in an alleyway but I suppose then when the suspended sentence came about and, you know, a lot of the remarks made in court were…I have to speak out against this because…it is hard to do but if none of us do it then, you know, none of us will have the courage to speak forward and, for me, a little while ago, watching Mairia Cahill’s documentary on [BBC] Spotlight was a real turning point for me, in terms of going forward and if I can do that for one person, if I can get people talking about rape, about how it’s viewed, about how the justice system are ignoring really safety, victims’ rights – the whole point of the legal system – then that’s a good thing.”
O’Donoghue: “Niamh, for you, I’m sure this date has probably been the only thing on your mind and on the horizon of your life that this court hearing was come up but, for you now and for your life, what’s next? Or can you start to look beyond this or start to plan your life?”
Ní Dhomhnail: “Yeah I think I’ve been trying to do that. Probably for some time now and sometimes you make small headway with these things and other times, you go ten steps back. I suppose I don’t want Magnus or his actions to take anything more away from me than they already have but that’s a real battle that you fight every day because it’s just not something that’s within your control. I’m trying to see that the world isn’t a dark place anymore and actually that’s the biggest hurdle. When you’re having consistent reminders or consistent flashbacks, or nightmares or whatever that makes it quite difficult but I do believe that I’m making good progress, despite everything, and that’s very much down to two very wonderful parents, supportive parents who are huge, ridiculously great friends and I would say that the first boyfriend that I had ever had, he’s been good and caring to me and he’s really showed me that life is worth living, even when things go wrong or something bad happens or you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time and so I have hope and I have faith but it’s not, it’s certainly not something that comes easy and there are a lot of dark days in between all that as well.”
O’Donoghue: “Niamh in this conversation, we’ve talked about the fact that you don’t think justice was done for you and we’ve talked about the danger of ‘don’t bother’ setting in in victims in reporting but what do you say, finally, to other women and other men out there who are victims of sexual crime.”
Ní Dhomhnail: “Firstly, thank you for acknowledging that men are also victims of sexual crime. It’s something that I feel really strongly about: that sexual crimes are viewed as heterosexual male-on-female acts which they’re absolutely not. And so for anyone out there who is experiencing what is an act between humans of absolute inhumanity, I would say if you don’t get the right reaction or the right response or a supportive response, or the response you want with the first person you tell, please do not, don’t leave it at that, don’t think that everyone will have that response. There seems to be a lot more out there now and there seems to be a lot more awareness between the Rape Crisis Network, the Rape Crisis Centre, One In Four, the Samaritans, whatever it is, call someone, talk to someone and don’t stop until you feel support and love. Unfortunately this is an issue that can garner a very strange reaction from people and I’ve experienced that myself but just don’t be deterred by that. Speak out against it, get in touch. There are a lot of people, I have realised in the past 24 hours, who have come to me who I don’t know, who I know from the TV, who I know from radio, who I know from the papers and media in general, who show incredible support and strength. So it is there so make sure that whoever you are that you get it because it’s there for you and you deserve it.”
‘the latest Diageo/Role-models advertisement features a young woman returned home after a night out clearly upset, with her mother standing in the bedroom doorway. The tag line read: ‘Who’s following in your footsteps: Out-of-control-drinking has consequences.’
The sinister inference is that the young girl has been attacked on her way home. The message is it’s her fault for being drunk and what is more it is also her mother’s fault for her own drinking habits.
The belief that drunk girls are ‘asking for it’ is one that needs to be strongly challenged as it is one that we know perpetrators use to select and target their victims knowing this cultural attitude will mean they get away with it. Disappointingly, the out-of-control campaign instead of challenging it has reinforced it here…
‘Not only is the survivor blamed, the survivors’ mother is also in the frame. The perpetrator is not in this picture. This is a harmful, regressive and hurtful message which targets the vulnerable. Survivors of sexual violence should never be used in this manner.
“The ad in today’s Irish Independent is part of a series of ads that are designed to get a discussion going in Ireland about the consequences of out-of-control drinking – the consequences for children, for siblings, and for our ourselves. The ads are designed to say, amongst other things, that our behaviour influences those around us. The ad in today’s Independent depicts an older sister who has returned home after a night of clearly excessive drinking, who is being watched by her younger sister.
This image may be provocative, and is intended to be. It has however been wildly misunderstood and misinterpreted by the Director of the Rape Crisis Network, who has madea series of completely inaccurate claims about the content of the ad. Nobody associated with this campaign would tolerate for a minute the inference that victims of sexual assault are ever to blame. Many of us have worked with the victims of abuse and assault over many years, and would never allow any untrue inference of that kind. It is an entirely unworthy assertion, based on a misinterpretation.”
Statement from Campaign to Stop Out-of-Control Drinking
Former Fine gael Senator Niamh Cosgrave and her French Spaniel
This morning former Fine Gael Senator Niamh Cosgrave, who’s been living in Chef-Boutanne, in the west of France, since 2007, spoke to Seán O’Rourke about how she was raped almost two and a half years ago.
Earlier this month, her attacker, serial rapist Christian Gladieux was jailed for 18 years. He was also sentenced to a further 10 years of psychiatric supervision on his release.
Sean O’Rourke: “Tell me what happened?”
Niamh Cosgrave: “Like everybody else, my door was open. I have a French spaniel and I have a handle on my backdoor and he’s able to open that door himself. I’m very lazy. If I go to bed, I don’t want to be woken up to let him out. So I’d gone to sleep, I don’t think I was that much asleep because when I felt a tap on my shoulder, I woke up quite normally. It wasn’t a deep, deep sleep. I immediately assumed it was the dog so I didn’t panic. I turned around and then I felt a hand on my head. And my head was pushed down and all I could see were tracksuit bottoms and a pair of runners. So I automatically assumed that this was a child, maybe some child that was in trouble or maybe some child that had come in to rob me. But then he made some gestures that made me believe that yes, I was in serious trouble here. I went into auto mode. I didn’t believe this was happening and I thought, ‘right how can I get away from this, how can I stop this?’ and I tried to talk him out of it. I asked him for a cigarette. The ironic thing is I’d been off cigarettes for three weeks. He gave me a cigarette, he rolled the cigarette for me but then I tried to delay the cigarette as long as I could. But then I knew I was in trouble when he held out his hand and he said, ‘put that cigarette into my hand’. And I thought, ‘I’ll burn him if I do that.’ And then I noticed the cigarette was out and he put it into his pocket. I then realised, this guy is covering his DNA and that he knows what he’s doing, he’s done it before, I really need to make an effort to escape here, I’m not going to talk him out of it. So I asked if I could go to the toilet and he said, yes. And he walked ahead of me and we got into the corridor, I knew that that kitchen door was open and I thought if I go back down into that bedroom, I mightn’t come out of it. And I went to run. And he turned around and broke my jaw.”
Sean O’Rourke: “He what? He struck you?”
Cosgrave: “He literally swung around and with the impact of his fist on my jaw, he broke it. And I knew it was broken because I could actually feel the click. And the pain was absolutely horrific. I’ve given birth to four children and I’ve never experienced pain like that before in my life. He then… I still tried to run away but he grabbed my by my hair, threw me to the ground and I was fighting, fighting, fighting because I knew if I had gone down that corridor, I wasn’t going to come back out of it alive. He eventually got me into the bedroom and, yes, he raped me and he raped me repeatedly. At one stage I tried to lean over because the photograph of my children was on the bedside locker, to turn the photograph down. I know it sounds strange but I felt they were in the room with me and they were looking. I felt their presence in the room and I felt humiliated and I felt disgusted. I tried to turn that photograph down and he said, ‘don’t bother, you’ll never see them again.’ Eventually, it was strange… people think of rape as being a sexual act but the amount of violence was horrific. In fact it got so bad that I no longer felt any pain and I divided in two. It was like I was looking at a horror film and I think, in some way, that saved my life because rape isn’t about sex, it is violence and he was particularly violent. I don’t know what was going on in his head but he was playing out some sort of sick fantasy. The only thing I could do was pretend to be dead. And I don’t know where I got the willpower to just lie there. But, as I divided in two, I don’t know what happened. I just stopped feeling pain and, eventually, when he’d finished, he’d said something strange like, ‘I’m going to Paris’. At that stage, I was convinced, he’s gone to find a knife. He can’t have done all this to me and leave me alive. And I lay there for I don’t know how long.”
O’Rourke: “Yeah and in addition to saying you acted as though you were dead, were you fearful that you were actually going to die?”
Cosgrave: “I knew I was going to die, I knew I was going to die. That’s exactly how I felt. What he was doing to me was so bad, I honestly did not think that he could leave that house without killing me.”
O’Rourke: “Did he, apart from saying things to you about, you know, you’re not going to escape or whatever, he said something as well, I think when you were trying to get the picture, to turn it down, did he say very much?”
Cosgrave: “No. In fact, the first question I asked him was, ‘why me?’ He said, ‘I think you’re a beautiful woman’ and I said to him, ‘well, this isn’t how you meet women’. And he didn’t answer that. The one thing I did notice was, in France and the French language, you have the ‘vous’ and the ‘tu’. ‘Vous’ is for when you’re being very formal with people but he was using the ‘tu’. And even though I couldn’t see him, didn’t recognise him, I got the impression he had seen me and felt familiar enough to [use] ‘tu’. He didn’t say much but he did answer my questions.”
O’Rourke: “How long did this ordeal go on for, Niamh?”
Cosgrave: “I went to bed at about I’d say quarter to 11, 11 o’clock, I’d organised a dinner party the next evening and the Gendarmerie report states that I rang the Gendarmes at about 2am so I, I would say he probably left the house, 10, 15 minutes maybe, it lasted I’d say about two and a half hours.”
O’Rourke: “He said he was going to Paris or something like that, something to that effect.”
Cosgrave: “Something strange, something weird, it came out of nowhere.”
O’Rourke: “And did he tell you not to do anything, not to, to stay in the room or…”
Cosgrave: “He said, ‘you stay there and don’t move’ and he left. But because he was wearing runners I couldn’t hear a door opening or closing, I couldn’t, I didn’t know where he was, I didn’t know whether he was still in the house or what. But, I lay there for a while and then I got this adrenalin rush, I can’t describe it. It was like, “I’m not going lie here and wait for this”. So I crawled out, I could barely move, the injuries were that bad but I crawled out to the kitchen. I did have a camera. And, I was tempted to switch it on the front drive but I was afraid if the light came on and he saw it, and he had left the house, that he’d come back. So I grabbed the phone and went running back down into my bedroom and when I rang the Gendarmes, I didn’t get through immediately, all I could hear was the music, asking me to wait and I remember hiding the mobile phone, in case he was in the house and realised I’d called the Gendarmes. And I thought, well, if he’s gone, at least it’s over. But, unfortunately, Sean it wasn’t over. Because the police arrive, the Gendarmes, they arrive with dogs, your house is no longer your own, your body is no longer your own, you’re covered in plastic, your bedroom is taped off, it’s like you’re still a bit of meat, you’re still a bit of property.”
O’Rourke: “Presumably, you got serious medical attention very quickly?”
Cosgrave: “Absolutely, in fact, the Gendarmes, they were in the house, I’d say a few minutes, very basic questions and they said, ‘we’re calling an ambulance’. And, like and idiot, I was like, ‘well why, why?’ I said, ‘I need to get dressed, I need to have a wash’ and they said, ‘no, you can’t, you can’t, you’ll have to go the way you are now’. So the ambulance arrived but from the minute I arrived at that hospital and I saw that wonderful Gendarme, dressed from head to toe in uniform and he just said, ‘yes, we’re going to do some examinations and we are going to catch that man’ and I felt safe and I felt secure.”
O’Rourke: “How long did it take for him to be caught?”
Cosgrave: “In fact he was caught the next day. After the operation, they asked me to do a photo profile on a computer. I said, ‘really, there’s no point’. And they said, ‘try it, try it, just you’d be amazed at what you’ll remember’. So it started by describing his hair and his face and before I knew where I was, we had his description and I said, ‘yes, that’s him’ and they immediately sent that the Gendarms in Chef-Boutonne who recognised him. The unfortunate thing is it took three weeks because, all, I discovered afterwards, although they knew who this was and because it was serious, they wanted to make sure that all the DNA matched up because when they did the tests, obviously, they did them three times – once for the Gendarmes, once for an independent body and once for me. And they wanted to make sure that every bit of that added up. He was also on the Sex Offenders’ List because he’d done this before.”
O’Rourke: “Could you have chosen, in the court process, over there, to have remained anonymous and not to be identified?”
Cosgrave: “In France, you can ask for what they call is a closed court. However, my solicitor had said to me, given the gravity of the situation, there was a very real risk that the judge might go for a partial [closed court]. But, as he said to me, you know, everybody knows and it will be in the papers, even with the [closed court], ‘victim Irlandes’. I’m the only Irish woman in that town, my anonymity, my ability to remain anonymous was gone anyway.”
O’Rourke: “But you had a particular reason for speaking out didn’t you?”
Cosgrave: “Well, absolutely because this feeling of having reported him, I felt, until that case came up, I felt like a dirty little secret. I felt that rape was a dirty little secret and that’s what an awful lot of victims, I think, feel. They feel humiliated and they live in fear and they live in secrecy and their lives are destroyed. One of the things I wanted to get across is that, ‘yes, you can report these things, yes you will get the help you need. And yes you can do some good’ and it’s been amazing for me since. It’s been absolutely. I can’t, it’s my birthday when I think..”
O’Rourke: “What do you think lies ahead for you then, for the rest of your life, now that you, I won’t say that you’ve put it behind you but at least you’ve seen that..”
Cosgrave: “My counsellor said I will never forget it but I will learn to live with it and when I saw him in handcuffs I realised, ‘yes I can learn to live with it’.”
O’Rourke: “Needless to say we’ve had an avalanche of texts and messages of support, ‘beyond brave, what a woman’, ‘hope she has all he peace and…pardon me…it’s just, I think it’s so moving to listen to you, Niamh.”
Cosgrave: “I want to thank those people for saying that, too. That means a lot to me.”
An anonymous foreign student at Trinity College Dublin writes:
Women in college are four times more likely to be sexually assaulted than any other demographic. But most college women, myself included, don’t report incidents for reasons such as denial, fear, or just plain old confusion. The media presents rapists as being satanic old buck-toothed men with axes in hand, but that’s not always the case. The unwanted hook up in your own dorm room with a friend you’ve known for months can be, and in many cases is also rape….
…Having only been in Dublin a few short months, I still naively thought that I was going to leave this county in four years with a university degree and nothing else. Maybe that’s why I didn’t think twice before opening the door upon hearing the sharp buzzing of my apartment doorbell that woke me one November night. His pupils were dilated, his body shook with energy, and his breath reeked of alcohol. He knew what he wanted and he knew that I could do nothing about it. I resisted for a while, but after very quickly realising my sporadic attempts were being made to no avail, I stopped. I was emotionless, at least that’s what I told myself. I waited what felt like hours for it to be over. Eventually, his friend phoned him and he left “for something better”.
I didn’t tell anyone that night. I didn’t tell anyone the next day or the day after that either. For months, I stayed quiet. Over a year later, I’m still not sure why I stayed quiet. I suppose I didn’t want to admit that something so unthinkable could have possibly happened to me, but mostly, I was so horribly afraid of what he would do. I have spent every day since in denial, shame, regret, and more than anything, fear. I have denied myself the opportunity to heal by hiding in my self-created shadows of shame. Rumours still exist in my circle of friends that I was the one that took advantage of him because I was sober. I guess I was just too polite or passive or something to justify sticking up for myself, but in hindsight I regret not screaming the truth. But when I go to sleep every night, I don’t think about any of that. I think of him. The image of his face exactly as it was that night will never escape my mind, and it will never cease to terrify me. To this day, I haven’t done so much as kiss a boy without being physically ill within 24 hours. And I probably never will.
That being said, I didn’t write this article to victimise myself. I didn’t write this article to demonise my rapist. I didn’t write this article to shame my “friends” that were quick to judge the situation. I have come to a fuzzy conclusion that I owe this article to myself.
Personal expression could be the element, if any element exists at all, that will be helpful. I have spent over a year in nearly complete silence, and that was over a year too long…
FreeDessie Ellis, Sinn Féin TD, spoke this morning on the Domestic Violence (Amendment) Bill 2014.
Yesterday, I stood with party colleagues and other members of the Oireachtas at the Dáil gates for a minute’s silence in memory of the men and women and children who have died at the hands of their partner or ex-partner since 1996. This was a very poignant event coming on the International Day Opposing Violence Against Women. A shocking 78 women and 10 children have been murdered in these 18 years. The event was organised by Women’s Aid who had laid out shoes along a blank sheet to mark a timeline of these needless and tragic deaths. Shoes, flat heels and sandals standing in silent memoriam of the lives stolen. These lives as the vigil so movingly stated are stolen lives. They are stolen from their families, their friends, their communities. Snuffed out by an abuser who should’ve been stopped.
One in five women experience domestic violence in their lifetime. This ranges from physical, emotional, sexual to financial abuse. From abuse, threats to kill and abuse behaviour, to stalking and harassment. By their very nature these are mostly crimes which go on behind closed doors when the curtains are drawn when the world around stops looking. But it also happens right out in the open.
We must strive to improve public awareness of the risk factors of domestic violence and to encourage everyone to make their homes, their community, their circle of friends, a place where this kind of abuse will never be accepted. Because unfortunately we have a culture today where subtly every day teaches young men to do many of the things that can lead to domestic violence. This trend in our society is called the ‘rape culture’. Its name is shocking and some dismiss this as over over the top but the symptoms are undeniable and its effects illustrated by those 78 empty womens’ shoes are too horrific to ignore. Rape culture is the tendency in modern culture to dehumanise, devalue and commodify women. It has always been there but has become much more obvious in the modern era with the partial successes of the early feminist movement and the 24-hour consumer capitalist culture which has sprung up alongside the internet.
Technology is not to blame but it is often the medium through which this culture finds its most vile expression. This tendency creates a culture which normalises the idea that women’s bodies are not wholly their own. It encourages blaming rape victims instead of rapists. It jokes about men who beat their partners and it belittles, demonises and threatens all those who challenge it. This is the culture our young men are growing up in.
It seems like every week there is a new case of a woman who has been a victim of sexual assault who has watched her abuser go free because a judge felt sympathetic to the criminal. These judges have handed down fines for which must be the vile and reprehensible crimes a person can commit. This is a slap in the face to those who sought to have their attacker prosecuted but it also says to women and girls who are victims of sexual violence: Don’t bother, the state will not punish your attacker but you will be put through the mill anyway.
As with many of our worst social issues, there are why many whose voices are not heard. This is why we have brought the bill. It’s to try to make it easier for people to flee this kind of abuse. It is crucial that we promote opposition to this kind of behaviour.
But it is also essential, that people who seek to leave, to get out can do so, can be supported, validated and protected. That is what we seek to do.
A lawyer for a body representing footballers has likened convicted rapist Ched Evans to the Guildford Four as a fourth high-profile Sheffield United patron resigned over the ongoing row.
The Professional Footballers’ Association of Ireland defended Evans on their official website, claiming he could be innocent and that even if guilty, he deserves a chance of redemption.
The article written by solicitor Stuart Gilhooly has been removed from the PFAI website but you can read it in full here.
The difficult element of this discussion, though, is the part about the scale of the crime. There are people who will say rape is rape and degrees shouldn’t come into it but in sentencing these issues matter. This crime, as alleged, was at the bottom end. There was no violence and thankfully the victim has no recollection of it. This, I hasten to add, does not make it right, or anything close to it, but it is nonetheless a mitigating factor.
From Jessica Ennis-Hill to Charlie Webster and pretty much every media commentator who has waded into this mire, the horses most of these pundits have mounted are so high, they’ll need a parachute to get down. When sanctimony takes over, there is rarely any real room for serious debate.
It’s not easy to muster up too much sympathy for Evans but there is surely nothing worse than being accused of a crime which you genuinely believe you didn’t commit.
The argument against that is that a jury convicted him of the crime. That’s right. And the same applied to the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six. They got no public sympathy either.
Maybe he is guilty or perhaps he’s innocent, none of us knows for sure. Surely, either way, he deserves a chance at redemption. Don’t we all?
Stuart Gilhooly is the solicitor to the PFA Ireland. He is also a journalist and has recently been shortlisted, for the fifth year in succession, a Journalist of the Year at the Irish Magazine Awards.
1. Ched Evans & McDonald both accused of rape because girl too drunk to consent. No question of violence or coercion. Girl remembers nothing