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***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!

ComposHat Thu 06-Feb-14 19:54:37

The history of the proven/not proven/ not guilty in Scotland is interesting.

Historically there were only two verdicts but in C18th when dealing with a trumped up case expressed their dissatisfaction by returning a 'not guilty' verdict. From then on not proven has had the status of 'not guilty but don't do it again. '

I think proven/not provenis a more accurate reflection of what the jury is being asked to do (assess whether the crown has proved the case) rather than deciding on whether you think someone is innocent/guilty.

Tuhlulah Thu 06-Feb-14 20:07:16

Doctor Quinn, I'm sorry but you simply cannot say that either BR or MLB are innocent. You could only do that if you were there. You can only say that they were found not guilty. And you cannot talk about the trials like that either if you want to retain any credibility. These were historic allegations which would be very hard to establish.
Don't mistake me, I am not saying that either BR or MLV are guilty or innocent, just that all we can say is that the jury didn't believe it could find them guilty beyond all reasonable doubt.

MeepMeepVrooooom Thu 06-Feb-14 20:15:09

ComposHat I agree with that entirely.

MeepMeepVrooooom Thu 06-Feb-14 20:20:54

I'm sorry but you simply cannot say that either BR or MLB are innocent. You could only do that if you were there. You can only say that they were found not guilty

This is the thing that bothers me with this though. As I asked in a previous post to someone else, would you think the same way if they were found guilty? Would you question their guilt the way people question their innocence? In the eyes of the law they are innocent men so why not in the eyes of the public?

I appreciate the difference i.e "proof" in a guilty verdict, however there have been and will continue to be innocent men and women found guilty of crimes they didn't commit. Do you cast doubt over a guilty verdict the way you do with a not guilty?

DebrisSlide Thu 06-Feb-14 20:24:11


I'm with you. People who have not thought about the nuances of either jury trials and/or rape myths will jump to the black and white thinking such as you describe.

Many people have posted on here over the years about every topic surounding rape and sexual assault, yet you get the same people giving the same responses. Anyone would they didn't read replies or re-cosider their fixed viewpoint and just wanted to get their opinion out there.

The fact is, when rape myths are so widespread, a not guilty verdict in the cases of rape or sexual assault are just not "safe". A jury of, say, DM commenters and another of MNers would probably come up wth different verdicts on the same case.

Tuhlulah Thu 06-Feb-14 20:38:02

MeepMeep, check out the thread about Amanda Knox. Not everyone thinks she is guilty. Also check the thread about Woody Allen and the allegations about the alleged abuse of his daughter Dylan. Many people have strong feelings about that too, and he didn't even come to trial!

The problem is that we only get to hear about a minority of the cases that pass through the criminal courts. And the press pick up the most controversial ones and these are the ones which most people feel strongly about because of the nature of the crime, like the death of Peter Connoly, etc, where the crimes so awful most people want to see someone punished for it.

You asked what I think about not guilty verdicts? the same that I think about guilty verdicts -'I hope the jury made the right decision'.

Smartiepants79 Thu 06-Feb-14 20:53:30

As always in these discussions, people's life experiences heavily influence their opinions on this subject.
Personaly, I know from my experience that people can be falsely accused of sex crimes. No one except the two people directly involved can ever truly know what occurred.
Whether this man is guilty or not, his life will never be the same again. Mud sticks, this will not be forgotten.

MeepMeepVrooooom Thu 06-Feb-14 20:59:58

I will have a look.

'I hope the jury made the right decision'

I think this is the only way a case should be looked at although I do understand absolutely that it is difficult in some cases when overwhelming evidence is presented in the press.

I too have first hand experience of someone close to me who has been wrongly accused of a crime. He is innocent but for the rest of his life he will live with this. It tarnishes his life daily and it's terribly sad to see.

Honeysweet Thu 06-Feb-14 21:02:32

I have not read much about the Roache case. Dont know why.

But could it be the jury's "fault" that a guilty verdict wasnt reached. That juries are more lenient than they used to be?
[Obviously he may well be innocent]

MeepMeepVrooooom Thu 06-Feb-14 21:02:35

Sorry Smartiepant I realise you say from your experience. In the case with the person I know it was actually proven he was innocent hence the certainty.

DebrisSlide Thu 06-Feb-14 21:02:45

You can't say that only the 2 people involved know what went on and also say they were wrongly accused.

MeepMeepVrooooom Thu 06-Feb-14 21:05:08

DebrisSlide I took it to mean that the poster was wrongly accused.

meditrina Thu 06-Feb-14 21:18:13

Well, if The Guardian is to be believed, the discrepancies were startling.

I doubt very much indeed that rape myths weighed much in the balance in this particular case when a woman described an assault in the 1970s taking place in his distinctive car. A car which it could be demonstrated that he did not own until 1984. And there were other major anomalies in the accounts, plus some that the woman said she 'believed' had happened, not that she remembered happening.

DebrisSlide Thu 06-Feb-14 21:19:38

My comment was to Smartiepants. Se her post before mine.

DebrisSlide Thu 06-Feb-14 21:23:11

And Meep, you are not reading the posts. There is no such thing as being proven innocent. You are proven not guilty beyond the bounds of reasonable doubt i.e. the Crown could not make a case the the jury could believe beyond reasonable doubt. Given the prevalence of rape myths, the "reasonable doubt" thing is something of a lottery.

MeepMeepVrooooom Thu 06-Feb-14 21:27:45

Yes I know who your comment was too. Like I said I read it like the poster (smartie) was the one that was wrongly accused.

Tuhlulah Thu 06-Feb-14 21:31:55

And (things may have changed in the New Labour blitz of legislation but) rape was the only crime in which the jury were warned that they should not accept the uncorroborated evidence of the victim. So in other words the victim's oral evidence must be backed up by something else like a witness statement or some forensic evidence. I don't know if that still stands - maybe there is a criminal lawyer on here who can assist? So rape has historically treated differently than other crimes. It was only recently that the law was amended to make rape within marriage a crime.

Rape seems hard enough to successfully prosecute when it happened recently so it must be nigh on impossible to bring a case in which the offence allegedly took place many years ago.

DebrisSlide Thu 06-Feb-14 21:32:12

Interesting. Bet you a tenner to Rape Crisis that it wasn't smartiepants that was the accused.

MeepMeepVrooooom Thu 06-Feb-14 21:37:25

Debris With regards to there being no such thing as being proven innocent. That is very small minded and actually entirely wrong.

The person I am referring to was being accused of something 6 years previous. The accuser lied saying something happened on her birthday, everyone of her lies was surrounded by the events that took place on her birthday, no question of the date.

The person accused could not remember where he was at that time due to the time lapse but knew he wasn't there. It wasn't until after the trial that actual proof emerged that he could not have physically been where the alleged attack had happened because he was somewhere else entirely. That was proven with CCTV footage. It proved his innocence. I didn't say a verdict was given of innocent I said he had been proved innocent.

Tuhlulah Thu 06-Feb-14 21:43:09

KeepMeep, no, you've misunderstood.

Under the criminal law we are all presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. This is called the presumption of innocence. You do not have to be proven innocent because you are, that's your starting position.

It is us to the crown/cps acting on behalf of the plaintiff Or victim to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the act which he or she is accused of.

Debris is just pointing out the actual phrasing of the law, and I'm sure it isn't meant as any comment on your situation.

Tuhlulah Thu 06-Feb-14 21:43:45

And arson my typos.

Tuhlulah Thu 06-Feb-14 21:44:06

Pardon my arson.

DebrisSlide Thu 06-Feb-14 21:45:37

He wasn't proven innocent in court.

I can argue this all night, btw.

And don't forget, the fact that HE was found not guilty does not mean that a crime did not occur and that she is making a false allegation. It may be a case of mistaken identity, hard thought it might be for him.

MeepMeepVrooooom Thu 06-Feb-14 21:45:42

I am aware of how the legal system works. As I said he was proven to be an innocent man after a trial which had resulted in a guilty verdict.

DebrisSlide Thu 06-Feb-14 21:46:44

Quite, I am not saying your mate was guilty. You just need to understand what the law says, as a potenial juror.

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