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Feminism: chat

Crimes against women

21 replies

thelongarmofthelaw · 01/06/2022 18:59

I was on a jury recently where we heard testimony from two complainants about some horrifying events at the hands of the defendant. Really brutal assaults, rape. We convicted, and then found that the defendant had a string of violent convictions including violence towards women and had been considered high risk to women at the time of the offences.

The claimants had to relive the events on the stand, were asked ridiculous and frankly misogynistic questions by the defence and showed extreme bravery in front of a defendant who was aggressive in the dock. They have gone through so much to get to the result they wanted.

I understand that a jury is acting only on the evidence and I’m so grateful the evidence allowed us to come to the right conclusion. But it seems so wrong to me that historic behaviour doesn’t come into it.

I don’t really know what I’m saying/asking. It’s still a bit raw really. But my god, those women were amazing, I am in awe of their tenacity and bravery and am appalled that this was able to happen. I’m still quite drained by it.

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thelongarmofthelaw · 01/06/2022 20:12

I guess what I’m looking for is somewhere to vent my frustration and anger at the way women are treated by violent partners, this one in particular was considered a risk on release just weeks before the first attack.

I found serving on the jury to be particularly tough - being bound by oath to not discuss the case has been a burden, especially as I would normally process by talking.

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Batdad12 · 01/06/2022 20:45

I hope you dont mind a bloke commenting on a feminism topic but i can relate to your jury service experience. back in 1997 i was on jury sevice, we had a case where a foster parent had been accused of sexual assault of a girl in his care. It was pretty much his word against hers, and he had good character references so we (reluctantly) aquitted him. after the verdict he burst into tears and hugged his wife, we were then read out additional information that this girl had track record of making dozens of such accusations against foster families and hence kept getting moved on.

at the time i thought it was wonderful that they let each case be tried on its own merits without previous incidents prejudicing it. ive since done a 180. both in that case and yours.


Batdad12 · 01/06/2022 21:21

Ah, awkward wording at the end there. what i mean is that i now believe peoples previous track records should totally be relevant in any new proceedings. i think the justice system gets it wrong


thelongarmofthelaw · 01/06/2022 21:53

Thanks for weighing in. I knew what you meant. I just keep thinking that thank god we thought the evidence was sufficient. He clearly presents a danger to women.

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AnneElliott · 01/06/2022 21:59

I've done jury duty twice and I'm amazed that anyone is convicted of anything. The other jurors kept focusing on the fact that the defendant 'looked like a nice boy' and was wearing a suit.

Leave aside he had a machete in a public place Hmm and was clearly a gang member. We did find him guilty in the end.

Well done for doing it though op - I'm not sure I could do a sexual offences trial.


thelongarmofthelaw · 01/06/2022 22:02

I can honestly believe why so many women don’t pursue a rape case to court. It came down to who had the most convincing and consistent story - but listening to some of the events was painful, and the questions were at times offensive. They had to reveal so much about their personal lives and I salute their tenacity.

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thelongarmofthelaw · 01/06/2022 22:22

Or perhaps I should have said ‘I can honestly understand why..’

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unsoftenedorange · 02/06/2022 01:59

I know someone who was a juror on a rape/kidnapping case.

The jury was instructed to return a not guilty verdict due to an error in how a piece of evidence had been handled. Had the jury found the rapist guilty, he would have successfully won an appeal under that specific loophole.

The juror in question now has so little faith in the legal system when it comes to survivors. He's seen first hand just how easy it is for someone to "get away with it."


CheeseMmmm · 02/06/2022 05:04

When it comes to sex offences committed by men against women, girls. And men who have sex with men. It's a different thing to any other crime.

The person assaulted/ dead is looked at for reasons it happened. Multiple examples of serial rapists carrying on for ages. Serial killers being missed because of who their victims were. The police just... Not giving a fuck.

Of course for those lucky enough to live in London, for the last few decades the met themselves have been keen rapists, murderers etc..


aweegc · 02/06/2022 05:28

I too find it odd that a woman who has been raped has been having her phone confiscated by police for them to trawl through whatever they want, to whatever level of detail they want, they can ask for her medical and psychological therapy notes and even school reports from 10 years ago. She can be questioned in courts on all of that and on intimate details of her life prior to the assault and about how she dealt with it afterwards. All to put together a case about whether she's believable. And from what I've been led to understand, this isn't done with the same tenacity for male victims.

But it's not possible to state that the accused has a conviction for the same or similar crimes.

I can see the benefit in not tarnishing one claim with another: it makes a guilty verdict stronger. I can see that if wouldn't be relevant in most cases to bring up a conviction for petty theft in a rape case, for example. But if they actively look and use against the accuser/victim at her patterns of behaviour since childhood, then there can be no real reason to ignore proven patterns of behaviour in the case of the accused.


thelongarmofthelaw · 02/06/2022 06:08

thanks @aweegc for articulating what I couldn’t - the prosecution witness had had full sets of medical notes pulled (including counselling notes), was questioned on antidepressant use and state of mind and it was suggested that enjoyment of rough sex was a defence for the act the jury ultimately considered to be rape. We didn’t see all of her personal information but we were aware of it and I was surprised by how much of her life she had to open up to bring this to court.

we were also shielded from his more violent and aggressive behaviour in court - we did a lot of waiting outside. The judge was remarkable in the way that he managed to keep a very tight focus on the evidence and so conviction was definitely made only on the evidence but it feels wrong for crimes that often follow a pattern.

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ParsleyRosemarySage · 05/06/2022 10:18

Classic misogyny embedded in action. Women complainants are questioned about every aspect of their past lives, as if consenting to sex with one male once is consenting to sex with every male always. Men are not so questioned, and their rights to privacy are sooo much more valued. As are their rights in general, in fact.


sawdustformypony · 05/06/2022 12:26

But it's not possible to state that the accused has a conviction for the same or similar crimes

The Criminal Justice System in this country is in tatters in many ways - but I don't see how making stuff up, like the above, helps.


aweegc · 05/06/2022 12:46

Sawdust well I believe that the jury is not supposed to be told of prior convictions for the same/similar crime - such as happened in this case (otherwise why wouldn't a jury be told that the defendant has multiple convictions for similar crimes?). I'm not "making it up", it's what I understood to be true.

If that's not true, please correct. It would be far more helpful in helping people understand than a snarky comment.


sawdustformypony · 05/06/2022 13:12

The law is contained in s101 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003

Defendant’s bad character
(1)In criminal proceedings evidence of the defendant’s bad character is admissible if, but only if—
(a) all parties to the proceedings agree to the evidence being admissible,
(b) the evidence is adduced by the defendant himself or is given in answer to a question asked by him in cross-examination and intended to elicit it,
(c) it is important explanatory evidence,
(d) it is relevant to an important matter in issue between the defendant and the prosecution,
(e)it has substantial probative value in relation to an important matter in issue between the defendant and a co-defendant,
(f)it is evidence to correct a false impression given by the defendant, or
(g)the defendant has made an attack on another person’s character.
(2)Sections 102 to 106 contain provision supplementing subsection (1).
(3)The court must not admit evidence under subsection (1)(d) or (g) if, on an application by the defendant to exclude it, it appears to the court that the admission of the evidence would have such an adverse effect on the fairness of the proceedings that the court ought not to admit it.
(4)On an application to exclude evidence under subsection (3) the court must have regard, in particular, to the length of time between the matters to which that evidence relates and the matters which form the subject of the offence charged.

I've been pre-hearing applications in Court under subsection(3) to exclude defendant's previous convictions, sometimes successfully sometimes not - so I know that it is possible to have such history disclosed at the trial of the defendant's past.


thelongarmofthelaw · 05/06/2022 13:57

I am still horrified by the treatment of the women. It feels far too open to chance even though if you have all of the information it is very obvious that we returned the correct verdict. He has a history of violent crimes against women (and emergency service workers) and was identified as a risk to women when he was released from prison

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NumberTheory · 05/06/2022 17:53

While I agree our criminal justice system is somewhat broken, especially when it comes to sexual crimes, I think there is a huge risk with prior convictions being allowed in that someone who had been convicted once would become a scapegoat for any similar crime they were in the vicinity of. We’d end up convicting the wrong person a lot and the right person would not be pursued at all.

There are situations where this would be less of a risk - cases where the accused can’t be the wrong person, it’s a question of were the actions a crime or was it an accident/the other person lying/a misunderstanding, etc. - though many convicts are somewhat vulnerable (abuse victims/low IQ/brought up in care/etc.) and could be targeted and set up by someone twisted.

I think there are a lot of steps that could be taken to improve the criminal justice system that don’t create such a fundamental weakness. A better handle on what it is reasonable to ask victims would be a good start. But I also think, especially with sexual crimes, police could do more in investigations by putting significantly more resources into it and treating almost all such crimes as serial ones from the start so they go in with the intent of finding other victims and building a case on a pattern of behaviour rather than a one off incident.


thelongarmofthelaw · 05/06/2022 19:00

Thanks @NumberTheory it definitely falls into the middle paragraph. It’s a he said/she said thing. And yes I agree re: vulnerability, that almost certainly applies, but what he did to those poor women was heinous.

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MangyInseam · 05/06/2022 21:47

It feels frustrating, but I think it's important to remember that these kinds of rules are put in place because they are protective in very important ways.

Think about the past when it was quite common for people to convict or arrest based mainly on their perception that the accused was in fact a bad person, had done this kind of thing before.

When it comes right down to it, that kind of knowledge can't tell us that an individual was responsible for a particular crime. A guy could be a horrible known abuser, rapist, whatever, and still not be the person who commited a particular rape that happened around the corner from his house. Not only would it be unjust to convict in that case, it would mean the real perpetrator would go unpunished.

In general, people need to be convicted on the evidence, not because of what they did before.


Brefugee · 15/06/2022 13:12

Perhaps we need some lawyers (barristers?) in cases that aren't sex-crimes to question the victims in a similar way to the (victim blaming) way women are questioned in rape trials?

"but you bought a shiny red sports car, you must have known it would be come the target of thieves? Why didn't you buy a grey station wagon instead?"

To show the ridiculousness of it all.


thelongarmofthelaw · 17/06/2022 19:29

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