Last week a BBC commentator was sacked for making “sexist” comments about the tennis player Marion Bartoli, in other words telling a bad joke at her expense. If that decision sounds harsh, at the other end of the spectrum is the recent announcement that soccer player Ched Evans is to be re-signed by his old club in a deal said to be worth £3 million. If you don’t understand why some people might find that outrageous, it is because Evans is currently serving a 5 year sentence for rape.
The Welshman was convicted at Caernarfon Crown Court in April 2012. Evans and another soccer player had gone to a hotel with a 19 year old woman for a “roasting”. (If you don’t know what that word means, don’t look it up).
Convicted rapist Ched Evans.
Should a man be denied his right to earn a living just because he has been convicted of a serious offence? Clearly not, although there are caveats. Had Evans been a doctor then obviously he would have been struck off the Medical Register. Had he been an accountant and convicted of theft, he would again have had to seek future employment elsewhere. Having said that, are Sheffield United doing the right thing? A lot of people think not, and a petition has been started on Change Dot Org against his re-employment.
Evans has appealed his conviction once, and lost, but is now preparing a submission for the Criminal Cases Review Commission; a dedicated website was set up early last year to plead his case. This is apparently maintained by his friends and family, including Natasha Massey, who says she will marry him on his release.
The website makes out a strong case for his innocence; certainly it paints a none too flattering picture of the victim, who was clearly not the sort of girl most young men would take home to meet mother. But to that one must add another big caveat, if half of what is claimed about her is true.
The website contains inter alia six defence witness statements which were not used at the trial. They portray her as a woman of low if not debased moral character, a regular user of illegal drugs, an habitual drunk, and if not an outright whore then the sort of girl one would not be surprised to find engaging in group sex with strangers in a hotel room.
Leaving aside the fact that even a common prostitute can be raped, what is wrong with these witness statements? The answer to that question will be immediately apparent to those who have some legal nous. Evidence in courtrooms under “English law” – which includes the United States, India and other places – must be given orally, and can then be subjected to cross-examination. Clearly Evans’ defence team did not consider it wise to put these witnesses in the box where their evidence would have been less than compelling, or even found to have been manufactured, which can have extremely serious consequences. Another page on the website is headed “Key and Undisputed Facts”; which raises another question: undisputed by whom?
This may not have been the rape of the century, but the very least that can be said is that Evans and his chum from Port Vale exhibited extremely poor judgment, and Clayton McDonald should count himself lucky that he is not sharing a cell with him.
Two other curious thing about this sordid affair are that much is made of the use of mobile phones. While Evans and McDonald were in the hotel room with the victim, the brother of the former was doing his best to film them through the window. Evans could have avoided his current predicament by recording her consent on his own phone, but he did not. Or perhaps he did? Also, according to his supporters, the woman did not complain to the police that she had been raped, rather they brought that charge on their own initiative. What does that suggest?
Finally, Natasha Massey’s loyalty is touching but sorely missplaced considering that whatever happened in that hotel room he was betraying her, although doubtless that £3 million contract will more than compensate for that betrayal. That is if the petition on Change Dot Org does not cause the people who run the supposedly family friend Sheffield United Football Club to reconsider their offer.
[The above article was published originally on May 26, 2014 with a linked video. That link no longer works, but there are plenty of other videos about this case on YouTube. It was captioned “Welsh international footballer Chedwyn Evans was convicted of rape in April 2012.” I have replaced said video with a photograph from a related article. If the tone of this current article is dismissive, as I have said elsewhere, after reading the full appeal judgment, I feel Evans was unlucky to be convicted. That does not alter the fact that he and his supporters have clearly gilded the lily, and in view of the sordid circumstances of this encounter, I find it difficult to have any sympathy at all for him].
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