***TRIGGER WARNING*** To not understand why people start victim blaming when a high profile defendant is found not guilty?

(73 Posts)
frustratedandsad Thu 06-Feb-14 17:11:16

(Name changing regular because I'm going to disclose something very personal.)

I was sexually abused for many years as a child by a 'beloved' family member. I've had lots of therapy and have often discussed reporting it but ultimately, felt I couldn't go through with it. Seeing how people respond to the highly publicised cases just confirms that I will never do it.

I've seen/heard vile comments such as;
"It seems unlikely that anyone could get raped more than once."
"The so-called victims should be sued."
"I wonder if Jimmy Saville would have been found innocent if he was alive."

And these weren't even the ones from the DM site!

Tuhlulah Thu 06-Feb-14 17:16:58

It's not unreasonable. A non guilty verdict does not mean that the accused did not do what he or she is accused of. It doesn't prove anything other than that 12 jury members decided that the evidence presented to them did not, in their view, convince them beyond all reasonable doubt that the dependent did what he or she was accused of.

So I don't blame any alleged victims just as I do not exonerate those who are found not guilty. I just hope that the jury's decision was the right one.

BookABooSue Thu 06-Feb-14 17:38:23

frustratedandsad I'm sorry for what happened to you and understand why our legal system wouldn't encourage you to report the abuse. Conviction rates are abysmal.

I think the comments that you've listed come from different motivations. The first is idiotic and shows a complete lack of understanding. The second taps into a feeling that the accused who has been found innocent is the victim of a grave and public injustice and hence deserves some kind of recourse.

The third is based on a lack of understanding of the legal basis on which Jimmy Saville was found guilty when he was not in a position to 'defend' himself. The police and the legal system have again failed victims of sexual abuse by not explaining clearly the process they followed and how they could establish guilt when not going through the usual legal process (which involves the accused being alive).

Of course because conviction rates for rape and sexual assault are so low, lots of people will believe (as Tuhlulah mentions) that the accused should not be exonerated regardless of the outcome of the case. However, in non-sexual assault cases, a percentage of defendants will be found not guilty so its likely a small percentage of defendants accused of sexual assault are not guilty too. So our low conviction rates fail them too because lots of people will be unsure if they should have been found not guilty or if they've benefitted from the appalling conviction rate.

MeepMeepVrooooom Thu 06-Feb-14 17:38:37

I can understand what you mean, although I actually don't think these cases should be reported on to the extent they are anyway.

However, if he had been found guilty would you be bothered by the comments made against him? Due to a situation someone I know has been in I'm not going to lie, it pisses me off that people found not guilty still have alot of people saying "doesn't mean they didn't do it just means it couldn't be proven" but if found guilty slander them all over the place without given thought to the fact that people can get found guilty of a crime they didn't commit.

AngelaDaviesHair Thu 06-Feb-14 17:42:37

Well, given that it turns out a lot of people on here don't even know the difference between 'charged' and 'convicted' (earlier threads have revealed), expecting them to make any kind of mature and nuanced assessment of what a jury acquittal means in any given case, let alone a sex offence case, is going to be in vain.

And I don't mean to sound dismissive or unsympathetic, because I heartily agree with you OP. But people are ignorant of these things and often not bothered about understanding them, plus there is so much stigma and prejudice against the women who come forward. So I am despondent.

YANBU. Victim blamers will take any opportunity to air their tedious views.

I've never heard anybody say that a case "should never have been brought" against someone acquitted of burglary, or suggest suing the complainant in a GBH case if the defendant is acquitted.

Joysmum Thu 06-Feb-14 17:53:19

I personally feel we need to change the system to not guilty, not proven and innocent.

AngelaDaviesHair Thu 06-Feb-14 17:56:16

No, not proven is a horrible, unfair, confusing, unsatisfying cop-out. There has been debate about dropping it in Scotland for that reason.

Because people aren't very bright and they like to cling on to black and white thinking as long as possible.

They always want someone to blame too sad

The reality is that barring issues, or being a liar those women believe it happened to them.

There are no winners here.

Tuhlulah Thu 06-Feb-14 18:06:19

I agree, not proven implies that you are guilty but that the evidence wasn't strong enough to convince the jury. There can be only two verdicts, guilty or not guilty. You are presumed to be innocent until proven otherwise, so you are not found innocent, you are found not guilty.

pamish Thu 06-Feb-14 18:08:48

I am especially pissed today at all this man's friends and ex-colleagues who are saying that they just know he couldn't have done it. 'He's a decent chap so we believe him' Christine Hamilton. 'The boy [sic] I knew liked women and had lots of girlfriends and respected them so he could not have done it' - Ken Farringdon aka Billy Walker in 1970something.

I have a new career for these people, let them stand on a street corner and pick out the rapists. Or if that's too difficult, let's give them a list of everyone they know and ask them to find the rapists on that list. It's really easy no?

I've served on a jury, twice, and each time we acquitted, not because we thought the perp had not dunnit, but because we didn't think they were proved to have dunnit. That has to be the bias, beyond reasonable doubt. 'Not proven' in other words.

In all the news reports today I have not heard from the prosecuting lawyers or DPP, let alone spokespeople for the women. Maybe they lied, the verdict suggests that (doesn't prove it), but someone could have gone back to them for statements instead of all this sycophancy.

MeepMeepVrooooom Thu 06-Feb-14 18:09:53

I personally feel we need to change the system to not guilty, not proven and innocent.

I disagree with this. I am in Scotland and disagree with the three tier verdict system we currently have. I think a better system wouldn't be guilty and not guilty but rather proven and not proven.

Tuhlulah Thu 06-Feb-14 18:13:30

Yes but it's semantics. What is proven? Guilt. What is not proven? Guilt. So what is the difference between proven/ unproven and guilty/ not guilty?

CromeYellow Thu 06-Feb-14 18:18:58

A man who is falsely accused, has his reputation shredded, career interrupted, loses a lot of money due to not working and having to pay a shitload in legal fees would be considered the real victim by most people.

It's not victim blaming to say that a case should never have got to court based on witnesses who were proven that they couldn't have being telling the truth on the stand with one claim based on one of the women 'thinking' that something 'may' have happened but couldn't be sure because she had no memory of it.

This type of nonsense is doing a huge amount of damage to REAL victims in the now who won't be believed despite what evidence they may have because of the absurd witch hunts against public figures where the police have invited every attention seeker in the country to make allegations, promising to take them seriously no matter how patently false, ridiculous or impossible to prove.

People are angry over the needless victimising of innocent men as the police pretend to show how much they 'care' about victims of sexual violence.

DoctorQuinn Thu 06-Feb-14 18:20:47

If a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty, a 'not guilty' verdict means he hasn't been proven guilty and is therefore to be presumed innocent.

So 'not guilty' does mean 'innocent'.

Nobody needs to be proven innocent. We all assumed to be innocent until proven otherwise.

MeepMeepVrooooom Thu 06-Feb-14 18:22:38

If the system was to change to proven not proven in my opinion it would be a truer reflection of the actual situation.

You eliminate the guilt that currently goes alongside the "not proven" verdict at present by removing the other two options of guilty - not guilty that currently stand.

Bill Roach was found not guilty. You still have people saying "it doesn't mean he didn't do it, they just couldn't prove it."

EdithWeston Thu 06-Feb-14 18:25:53

I don't really think he comparisons with burglary or GBH stand up to scrutiny. But assuming like previous poster that they do, and looking at one of them:

The number false claims of burglary are on the rise, and those who claim they have been burgled when they have not been are likely to be prosecuted. A not guilty verdict in a burglary trial (burglary occurred but not by him) would not lead to action against the complainant. But if it could not be demonstrated that the burglary had taken place at all, or the account was fabricated, then the complainant may well be prosecuted.

I think that friends of Roache are only speaking now because they could not do so before as it could be considered prejudicial to the trial. Yes, it is possible that someone dupes everyone they are close to for over 50 years; but the people who are attesting to his character are not claiming to be able to identify rapists in the abstract, they speak as individual character witnesses.

The Guardian published a piece very shortly after the verdict, and it points to some glaring discrepancies in the testimony.

somedayillbesaturdaynite Thu 06-Feb-14 18:30:54

In answer to the thread title, I am shocked at how many think the women should be prosecuted. "I believe you"

MeepMeepVrooooom Thu 06-Feb-14 18:30:57

I am especially pissed today at all this man's friends and ex-colleagues who are saying that they just know he couldn't have done it.

Really? I would be 100% behind a member of my family or a friend (which alot of his ex colleagues are). I have been before and I said then there is no way this is true. Why would this piss you off that people would stand by a man they care about?

pamish Thu 06-Feb-14 19:06:41

@ meep meep - just because he's their friend doesn't mean they know whether he's a sexual predator in other situations. You can testify that he's a gentleman when he's around you, that's all. You can stand by him and support him, that is not unreasonable, but claiming to know he would never misbehave is misplaced loyalty.

plutarch14 Thu 06-Feb-14 19:07:46

Because most people have simply no idea how the British legal system works.

cory Thu 06-Feb-14 19:14:28

In the one case where I know someone has done it (as in, actually seen the evidence) I would expect everybody who did not have that inside knowledge to be convinced that this person, whom they know well, could not have done it. I'd understand them for standing by a friend- but they'd be wrong.

MeepMeepVrooooom Thu 06-Feb-14 19:22:34

See I disagree with that if I'm honest. In their heads they believe he has done nothing wrong. If they believe it 100% then to that individual there was no way he could have done it. They could have been proved wrong but they weren't so I think it's a fair statement to make. It's their personal opinion that's all.

To try and explain it another way some people say they know there is a god, I would say they are wrong. It doesn't make their personal belief any less. To them there is a god. Many people will say something is fact until proven otherwise. There is no difference here IMO.

DoctorQuinn Thu 06-Feb-14 19:42:34

In most pre-Savile sexual abuse cases, there was a significant weight of evidence against the defendant and juries had to think long and hard before bringing in a verdict.

If that verdict was 'not guilty', it usually meant they jury didn't disbelieve the alleged victim but simply that they couldn't be certain she was telling the truth. There's no shame for an alleged victim in such a verdict.

Since jimmy Savile was exposed, however, we've seen charges brought in circumstances which would never before in history have merited bringing any charges.

Apart from the strain on innocent defendants like Michael le Vell and William Roache, perhaps the saddest aspect of these evidence-free, witch-hunter 'show' trials is that victims will in future fail to come forward, fearing that their cases too will be thrown out as readily as the juries threw out those two cases

specialsubject Thu 06-Feb-14 19:48:20

I also read the Guardian article and the prosecution case seemed to be full of holes.

Our system isn't perfect but it is the best available. It has to be 'innocent unless proven otherwise' or life would be hell in this country.

the guy doesn't sound the nicest chap in the world and by his own confession has screwed around, but that doesn't automatically make him a rapist.

juries (been there) are also told not to convict unless they are sure. And that is also how it should be.

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