The Innocence of Ched Evans

Ched Evans, Photo, Jon Candy, Flickr.com
Ched Evans, Photo, Jon Candy, Flickr.com

For some time now, I’ve been avidly following the case of Ched Evans, and taking part in some heated debates in the process. I was wary of writing anything like this due to the abuse I’d be sure to receive – “rape-apologist” was the epithet that kept popping up in social media disputes. I’ve always thought free speech isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

However, this emotion soon turned to sheer despair when I started to see the things people were posting on Twitter. The papers have picked up on it and this is now the news. Funny, isn’t it? No mention that Ched Evans can now live his life without the rapist label stuck all over him. Those things people were posting on Twitter came under the “victim-blaming” bracket (even though there is no victim in the case); people calling the girl a “slut” among other things. In case you weren’t aware, the girl didn’t actually accuse anyone of anything so it’s certainly not her fault. Of course, this only contributed to the ludicrousness of the case against Evans. It also showed that ignorance is still rife, and people will use any excuse to call a woman a “slut” or a “slag”.

Who is responsible then? This may come as a surprise to you but, it’s patriarchy. Whatever made that girl tell her mother, “I don’t remember anything Mum” the morning after is to blame. She was too ashamed, too anxious to admit to the world that she’d had a one-night stand. It was proven that she had said those exact words after previous consensual, sexual interactions. A man wouldn’t have any reason to feel ashamed because no one would judge him – that’s where the patriarchy comes in. If girls were given acceptance, rather than disgust after a one-night stand, she would’ve told the truth at that pivotal moment on the morning after and none of this sad sequence of events would have occurred. She didn’t contact the police once; she was just embarrassed and ashamed of what she’d done. She was then caught in a huge furore that would change hers and Evans’ life forever.

For all of you who still think he’s guilty I beg you to research this case for just 30 minutes, and please, at all costs avoid any newspapers

And for the jury, well, stereotyping is something built into all of us. It gnaws away at the glue that binds us all together. It divides us and it’s something that we need to destroy as quickly as possible. A young, Welsh, male footballer who has a vacant look about him; the jury took one look at him and made their minds up instantly before one iota of evidence was put before them – an opportunistic predator they were thinking. It’s funny because that’s exactly how the rest of Britain formed their opinion on Ched Evans. One person I spoke to about the case exclaimed, “he must’ve done it, he looks like rapist scum”, and laughed. Jess Ennis-Hill threatened to remove her name from Sheffield United’s stadium if they were to recruit him back. The media spread his photograph around and he did indeed look vacant and pretty scary, but who doesn’t in a mugshot? For any men reading this, if you are wrongly accused of rape, make sure you do your hair and give your face a wash before they take the mugshot; it shouldn’t matter, you’re right, but it’s just a sad reflection on how shallow we are as a nation of judgemental baboons. I’ve thought about this a lot, it’s the only plausible reason as to why the jury interpreted the evidence the way they did. There isn’t one piece of evidence to suggest completely that the man is guilty of anything but cheating on his partner.

For all of you who still think he’s guilty I beg you to research this case for just 30 minutes, and please, at all costs avoid any newspapers. They were the ones who were so quick to condemn him in the first place, so now they are suddenly rushed into smearing his innocence as a means of avoiding a justified apology – surely that’s taking stubbornness to a new level, right? The Sun’s headline sums this sentiment up perfectly. You should know you’re wrong if you find yourself agreeing with that rag.

For those still not convinced, I’d love to know what you’ve managed to discover that I have not. And before you say ‘he left through the fire exit’ leaving through a fire exit does not make someone a rapist. Neither does being a cheat. Sorry I have to say that but people really do use those things against him. You’d never guess this was 2016.

Two days have passed since the not guilty verdict was announced. Many, including myself, expected the internet to go into a meltdown regarding the treatment of Ched Evans by the judicial system and many public figures. We were right in one respect: the media – and social media in particular – has indeed gone into a frenzy. Not for the fact Ched Evans’ name is now cleared, but over the way justice has been served. In spite of the not guilty verdict, we can all agree that people are entitled to question the means by which it was done. In 1999, a law was passed that said if a woman claimed she’d been raped and the case went to court, the defence was not normally allowed to question witnesses about her sexual history. During the retrial, however, the unnamed woman’s sexual history was brought into questioning. When that law was passed seventeen years ago it stated that the claimant’s sexual history was to only be questioned under exceptional circumstances where a fair trial depended upon it. The law was put in place to encourage more women to come forward, so it should be emphasized that only under exceptional circumstances, like this one, is that law to be ignored. Lisa Longstaff, of the group Women Against Rape, said the case seemed like a “throwback to another time”. This argument characterizes the general outlook, led by the media and feminist activists, but rests on a completely false assumption. The false assumption being that the jury was asked to use her sexual history to judge the claimants character. For example, she wore a certain type of undergarment so must be “asking for it”.

there were just too many unexplained irregularities in the case against him which meant there was only one just outcome

We must trust a jury of twelve (seven women and five men) and a court of appeal in the 21st century to not hold such backward beliefs. Many people in this country do hold such beliefs, but for all of those individuals, as a collective body, to agree with those beliefs is surely a social impossibility. So, what was the reason her sexual history was brought up? Lady Justice Hallett, who led the court of appeal emphasized, in this particular case that similar behaviour was displayed by the claimant during previous sexual encounters. The court of appeal believed the jury must consider this evidence as it may shed further light on the investigation. Believe it or not, they matched with Ched Evans’ description of his own sexual experience with the claimant. Despite this, it is important to stress that this was simply one cog in the large wheel moving towards the not guilty verdict. Lady Justice Hallett made it clear to the jury that the case was not to hinge entirely on this new piece of evidence. With or without this new piece of evidence, Ched Evans should’ve been given the not guilty verdict. The new evidence helped Evans win the appeal in the first place so was vital in that respect. However, there were just too many unexplained irregularities in the case against him which meant there was only one just outcome. So, justice was served, and it was served in the right way. A small speck of light in a very dark four years.

Is there anything good that can come out of this? There is one thing: an innocent man no longer has to explain to his future kids why people keep spraying rapist all over the garage doors. He can walk the streets without fear of being attacked or called a rapist. Another important thing here, is the rebuilding of trust between us, the people, and the justice system. Hopefully this has taught us that we must move forward quickly; helping both women and men by encouraging more women to speak out, but also reassuring men that if you’re innocent, you will be found innocent, period. It’s something we took for granted before Ched Evans’ conviction. For the rest of it, it all seems pretty bleak. A stereotyping, patriarchal and ‘twitter troll-ridden’ society that no longer understands justice and which turns its nose up on women who wish to experiment with sex.

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