Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Monday, October 27, 2014

Rape As Infidelity

"[I have] constantly regretted my act of infidelity and the damage that as been done on so many fronts because of it."
"It can't have been an easy thing to have stood by [girlfriend and supporters] someone who the courts found guilty of such a destructive act."
"It is a rare and extraordinary privilege to play professional football. If allowed to return] I will do so with humility, having learned a very painful lesson."
"I would like a second chance, but I know that not everyone will agree."
Ched Evans, professional soccer player, Britain
"When you take a footballer on, you are not taking just a footballer, you are also taking on a role model."
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Sheffield/London

"[Convicted criminals have a right to return to work, sentence completed] ...but we have to accept that in this case it is an incredibly high-profile figure. [Professional clubs] need to send a strong message that rape and sexual violence will not be tolerated within football."
Katie Russell, Rape Crisis England and Wales

Ched Evans is a convicted rapist. Now aged 25, he has an impressive professional football resume with Manchester City, Norwich City, Sheffield United and with the Wales national team. But at the present time the question looms, should a convicted rapist, having served his sentence, be barred from a return to soccer, or should he be considered an rejected social outcast?

There are at least 150,000 signatures to an online petition demanding that he not be reinstated, and instead be barred from returning to soccer. Clearly, this is an issue that provokes strong reactions, for and against. Clearly, it all depends on perspective, and Ched Evans's own perspective is that he be given the opportunity to do what he is good at, and what he shouldn't have done be overlooked and placed neatly in the realm of 'boys will be boys'.

In his defence Mr. Evans, who obviously doesn't feel that the conviction was the right call, claims the 2012 incident for which he was arrested, charged and found guilty at trial, was in actual fact an "act of infidelity", and not a rape. Gordon Taylor, head of the Professional Footballers' Association and groups whose business is to lobby for ex-prisoners' rehabilitation, agree with him.

"I didn't know that there was a law that said once you come out of prison you still can't do anything", Mr. Taylor stated acerbically. Sheffield United had released striker Ched Evans after he was convicted of raping a woman in a hotel room in Rhyl, Wales, in May of 2011. Now, his conviction and sentence behind him, they're thinking of welcoming him back with a $800,000 contract.

The club is co-owned by Prince Abdullah Bin Musa'ad Bin Abdul Aziz, a member of the Saudi royal family. And given the circumstances in which the rape occurred, how likely is it that the staunchly Islamist-conservative Saudi would feel constrained to disallow the re-contracting of Mr. Evans? After all, it was a 'chance meeting' on the street with the 19-year-old by Mr. Evans and another player that led to the rape.

Not that the young woman asked to be raped but in Saudi Arabia women do not appear unescorted by a male family member on a public street, nor do they strike up conversations with men they do not know at ungodly hours, nor do they accompany them to a hotel at 4:30 a.m. All of this implies consent in Saudi Arabia. And the penalty for the ensuing rape would be borne not by the rapists but by the woman for inciting the men to rape.

In her testimony the young woman of 19 confessed to having been so drunk no recollection of what had occurred remained with her. Just as, in all likelihood, her state of inebriation left her unaware of what was happening to her, when it was happening. She testified that she awoke, naked "confused and dazed" to see her clothing scattered on the floor. She had wet the bed. When she left the hotel she was hysterical calling police only after her working shift. She felt one of her drinks had been spiked.

She is unnamed, to protect her identity and although she may not pay a price in public shame and notoriety relating to the event she will certainly regret everything about it; her loss of intimate agency top of mind. Her helplessness to prevent what had occurred when she was used and abused as an object not a human being. Mr. Evans will appear, apart from his limited stint in custody to have landed right-side up, feet firmly on the ground of future opportunities.

Whether that will include other rapes will yet to be seen.

The reason she was out late that night?  She was a waitress, had finished work late that evening. She'd had red wine with colleagues before heading for home, then ventured out again at 1:30 a.m. to meet friends at the seafront nightclub Zu Bar. There she drank four double vodkas. By the time she left the club around 3:00 a.m. on her way to a fast food shop, she was having difficulty standing on her own.

Street-level closed circuit video (CCTV) footage showed her losing her balance, falling into a wall, trying to enter a taxi, her clothing "disarranged, her bra visible", recalled the driver. Which was the point at which Mr. Evans' colleague Clayton McDonald, who had been in the Zu Bar along with Mr. Evans where they had tried to persuade another young woman to come back to the hotel room, approached her. They had pre-reserved a hotel room for that very purpose.

He is adamant that "the acts I engaged in on that night were consensual in nature and not rape". Evidently, extreme intoxication equates with consent. The appeal judges at the Court of Appeal had rejected a bid to overturn his conviction. Having served his time, his long-term partner Natasha Massey, 24, beside him, he states he "constantly regretted my act of infidelity and the damage that has been done on so many fronts because of it."

Ched Evans and girlfriend Natasha Massey on holiday in Portugal
Ched Evans and girlfriend Natasha Massey on holiday in Portugal 2011

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