Canada has Jian Ghomeshi, UK has Ched Evans.

There is a huge story dividing the UK right now. It centers around a 27 year old professional footballer (soccer player) called Ched Evans. I’ve been following this story because it has prevailed prominently on the online British sports and football pages, which I frequent every couple of days. It seems more interesting now, because we have our own Canadian “sex scandal du la jour” Jian Ghomeshi. To me, the Evans story is a brilliant case study in how society now views sexual assault and rape, some professional footballers attitudes to woman and sex, plus social media mob mentality, that now seems to prevail in public discourse. But let’s see what you think:

The unfortunate affair started back in May 2011. One of Evans team mates Clayton MacDonald after a night of drinking, was ordering food in a fast food restaurant in Rhyl, Wales. He was approached by a nineteen year old woman, they had a conversation and ended up leaving together in a cab to go back to a hotel that MacDonald had a room booked in. At some point he texted Evans saying “I have a bird (woman)”. I viewed CCTV footage that is available online of the pair entering the hotel and the interactions at the fast food restaurant. The woman is a little unsteady on her feet but by no means falling over drunk. In fact the footage shows her running back to the taxi in high heels to retrieve her handbag, she bends down puts a pizza box on the floor, opens the taxi door, has a conversation with the driver, then runs back into the hotel. Apparently the two then go to the room and have sex. Evans arrives half an hour later goes to MacDonald’s room, MacDonald leaves and Evans has sex with the woman. None of the above is disputed by anyone. When MacDonald left, he told the night porter to watch the lady in his room because she is very drunk. The night porter goes up to the room listens at the door and hears the sounds of I quote “Two people having sex” and leaves thinking all is OK. There are stories circulating online, that two of Evans friends videoed the proceedings from a window, but that does not seem to have been verified anywhere because that would prove Evans guilt or innocence. Evans left via an emergency exit.
The woman wakes at 11 am having no recollection of anything that had occurred, she had incidentally urinated in the bed. She immediately went to the police and reported that she thought she had been given a date rape drug and had no memory of the night before. The police investigated, picked up the two football players, later that day. In questioning, both admitted to having consensual sex with the woman. They were both immediately charged with rape. The toxicology reports on the woman, the following day, showed she had limited traces of alcohol,cocaine and marijuana in her system, but no date rape drug was present. Through interviews with her, it was estimated that she had approximately 2.5 times the alcohol level to drive when the incidents occurred. Which seems like a lot but in the binge drinking culture of Britain’s youth, is pretty much a normal weekend night out.

Evans and McDonald, were tried at the Crown Court at Caernarfon, Wales, after being charged with rape. Evans was convicted on 20 April 2012 and was sentenced to five years imprisonment. (McDonald was acquitted). He was eligible for release after serving half of that sentence. In August 2012, Evans was refused leave to appeal against the conviction by a single Court of Appeal judge. Then the full court upheld the decision in November. Evans continues to maintain his innocence and in November 2013 recruited a new legal team to attempt to clear his name. He was released on 17 October 2014, although he remains on the Violent and Sex Offender Register indefinitely. Following his release, the Criminal Cases Review Commission announced that they were fast-tracking a review of his conviction.

Pretty open a shut case right? Well actually no. On further investigation beyond, the normal media sources, I found the following on line:

A piece of evidence that could not be presented at trial was the fact that the woman had tried and failed to have a young rugby player charged with the same offence a year earlier. Also some deleted Tweets from late 2011, which are now posted online bragging to her friends about how she was going to spend the criminal compensation money she figured she would get from a civil suit against Evans and McDonald. Herself and all her close friends completely deleted all Facebook and text conversations soon after the night in question. When asked about this she explained she was just cleaning up her phone, although a period of around two days around the incident were all that were missing.
After the trial, trolls who supposedly supported Evans released her name on Twitter leading to her being threatened and having to move 5 times, because of harassment. 9 people were charged with contempt of court, for releasing this woman’s name in the public domain. But this was shared thousands of times on Twitter. In reading about this story her name very quickly appeared as part of the conversation.
Since he was released from prison he wanted to return to his football career. Sheffield United were ready and willing to re-sign him, but club sponsors, benefactors, the prime minister, the leader of the official opposition, various talking heads and a 120,000 name petition; put so much pressure on the club, they pulled out of negotiations with the player. Co-chairman Jim Phipps, attributed the decision to “mob-like behaviour”, stating his belief that Evans has a right to return to his career having served his sentence.

Same thing happened with Hartlepool FC, after they showed interest in the player. The local Labour MP got involved calling Evans a “pariah”. Management soon made a statement saying that they were no longer interested in signing this player. He was offered a place on a club in Malta, but the government stepped in and said he would not be allowed to leave the country.

Two days ago Oldham Athletic FC were “80% sure that they would be signing Evans”. I just read on the BBC website, that after death threats to members of the board of directors of the club, also a threat of rape to one of their daughters, sponsors threatening to pull advertising, another 60,000 name petition, politicians weighing in and general social media mob rule. The club has now decided against signing Evans.

My question is: After someone has served their time, even in a case of rape, when is a person allowed to fully integrate back into society as a free person? I saw it written somewhere, a person justifying the above mob rule because Evans wanted to return to football and as such would be a roll model for young people. If he wanted to collect garbage or wash dishes that would be perfectly OK. How comfortable would you feel if your daughter were working in a kitchen with a convicted rapist? Also it seems from court transcripts, that the only way the rape conviction was successful was because the woman had no recollection of the sexual activity and the men admitted to having sex with her. I suggest that if this were the litmus test for rape in my younger wilder days, I was probably “raped” a couple of times myself 😉

Anyway, I thought this was an interesting story from my country of birth for some of you to ponder.


21 thoughts on “Canada has Jian Ghomeshi, UK has Ched Evans.

  1. It is an interesting story with many facets; the crime and trial itself, and now the reaction of football clubs, the league and the public.

    Sexual assault seems to be a hot topic in the media right now (Cosby, Ghomeshi, Dalhousie). I think the media goes through trends, and perhaps some of these stories wouldn’t receive this much attention otherwise. For example, the Dalhousie story just demonstrates that in a country of 34M people a journalist can always find 13 assholes to write about on any given slow-news day. I can’t believe the amount of attention it has received nationally.

    I don’t know a lot about the Evans case, but it is likely that, being a premier league professional footballer, he would have had decent legal representation. And I have enough respect for the jury system to believe that there must have been a reasonable case against him. Some aspects do seem odd. For example the jury, with their decision, imply that they did not believe the woman’s allegation about one defendant while believing her about the other. On the other hand you could infer that McDonald was lucky as easily as Evans being unlucky.

    Just a few comments on some of the other comments here. Queen B, the complaint was rape and the charge should have been rape. There is a danger that the police and prosecution service might become arbiters of justice by ‘selecting’ charges based upon how much of a slap on the wrist they believe a suspect deserves. This is not and should not be their role. On the other hand, it is reasonable to apply a lesser charge in addition to a more serious one and allow the court (jury) to assess both on their merits.

    At all costs we should avoid a system like the US where the main aim of the overloaded ‘system’ is to avoid costly trials (justice taking a back seat). The documentary Gideon’s Army is a real eye opener! The US system results in criminals guilty of very serious crimes getting their crimes downgraded, but on a more massive scale to those guilty of minor crimes (or even the innocent) getting upgraded (its way quicker,easier, cheaper and less traumatic to negotiate with prosecutors even if you are innocent). In other words ‘justice’ has become a process of negotiation there.

    The case also raises questions over whether an individual – even assuming his guilt – should be further punished upon release. I guess you could write a book on this case (and someone probably will).

    • Mr. Bunkertoad you sound strangely like Bill. 🙂 Anyway just to clear a couple of things up. Evans wasn’t a premier league player when he was convicted of this offence, he was playing for Sheffield United in Division 1 which is the third tier of English football so he would probably have been making around 3,000 to 5,000 pounds per week being that he was the top scorer of that league the year he was convicted. He does have a long standing girlfriend called Natasha who he was engaged to at the time of the offence. She has a fairly wealthy father whom has been paying the legal bills. Strangely enough she has stood by him throughout all this.
      The basis for the claim of a miscarriage of justice is there were some issues in how the judge directed the jury prior to the case being handed over to them. Which it is claimed led to different verdicts for both defendants. Not sure about Canada but apparently in Britain a woman can be falling down drunk and not remember a thing the next day and still give consent to have sex. Also it was not the woman that made the complaint of rape. The police charged based on the fact that the woman had no recollection of the events and that the men admitted to having sex with her. With no physical evidence the police only had the statements of the two men to go by, so Evans actually convicted himself. That is why it is very important, when arrested, to never make any statement to police unless you have a lawyer present, which these two did not have. It seems Evans thought that this was all just routine and he also did not want his girlfriend to find out.

      • Mr. Bunkertoad, your points are well thought out and written; worthy of input in this discussion. I do think it is valid as well to have full clarity on the Judicial system, to which I am in no doubt that you have good knowledge of, as do I.

        Who Decides To Lay Charges:

        The police do not decide whether or not charges will be laid against someone accused of a crime. Rather, if they decide there is enough evidence, they will refer the case to Crown counsel and recommend whatever charges they feel are appropriate. That referral is called a “Report to Crown Counsel” and will include victim and witness statements in written, audio or video taped form and all other relevant information. It should be noted that suspects, having the “right of silence” are not required to speak to the police, which, as VFAN noted, should be exercised wisely.
        Now, having said that, I would like to make clear that I am aware that “political and other powers of influence” are definitely topic of considerations when having discussions in those little back office’s, of which we are all well too aware, exist. Again, a lot to consider as we develop our own thoughts and ultimate voiced opinions. Each aspect, from complaint to conviction, is a due process, including the public and media’s take on it.

      • Yes indeed, it most certainly was my employee William writing earlier on my computer. I would never write such nonsense myself of course. I apologise profusely Mr Nobody. He has been severely disciplined and it will not happen again.

        The case reminds me of the time I was arrested for drunk driving in Nairobi with a blood alcohol level seven times over the legal limit. I arranged for the judge to let me off with a warning, arguing that I was so drunk I could not possibly be responsible for my actions. The wheels of justice were apparently smoother in those days than appears to be the case now.

        As for these so called professional footballers; its a well known fact that they are all a bunch of yobs! Lock ’em up I say! At least until they learn to play rugby and become decent contributing members of society.

      • In addition to my comment:
        Crown Counsel are responsible for the decision to prosecute, under the Crown Counsel Act. The charge assessment policy requires Crown Counsel to examine the case at each stage of the prosecution and decide whether there is a substantial likelihood of conviction and, if so, whether prosecution is required in the public interest. This cannot be determined solely by the wishes of the complainant. They follow a charge assessment guidelines policy for making decisions about whether to charge someone with a criminal offence. The policy is part of the Crown counsel policy manual.

        So, did the Crown Counsel and the Investigation Police follow the appropriate applications under the Judicial system? Did the types, and rules, of evidence support it the charge and conviction? The Judicial System is not without flaw, history has most definitely proved that. But, my thought process must be over-whelming evidence before I can conclude a case without ALL considerations of the process, legal or not, being presented to me. Ask my personal opinion it may be quite different and not based on any process but my own, which is why it doesn’t always count.

        Thanks for the platform to share my input, I appreciate it.

  2. It is this kind of story that keeps me awake at night. I am a mother of two boys and worry they could walk themselves into this type of horrible situation one day. I guess what it comes down to is that no one should accept consent to have sex with someone they don’t know and who is intoxicated or they put themselves at serious risk. The story seems to have significant holes in it and sadly it appears all of the players have been victimized to some degree (except MacDonald I guess)…I’m sure Evans wishes he never picked up the phone that night!!

    • Thanks Rachel you are a coming at this from exactly the same place as myself, having a teenage boy. You hit the nail on the head teach our young boys to have respect for themselves, never have sex with someone they have just met, especially when drunk. The holes you talk about come from the binge drinking culture that prevails with youngsters in the UK, plus the fact that football players are revered within that same culture. Interesting story though.

  3. One thing you didnt mention was result of the medical exam on woman, dna, bruising, trauma. Surely over in England this is normal practice after a rape.

      • Let’s understand what “Rape” is:
        It is defined as unlawful sexual intercourse or any other sexual penetration of a body orifice of another person, with or WITHOUT force, by a sex organ, other body part, or foreign object, without the consent of the victim. Forcing a sexual organ into a person’s body orifice is considered a lot worse than forcing a cucumber into someone’s mouth, but they’re both violating someone against their will by inserting a foreign object into an orifice.The fact that this woman had no abrasions, no bruises and no DNA (assuming they are referring to semen) is not indicative of her not having been raped. Maybe an Assault charge would have been considered an alternative, because it is, by definition, carried out by a threat of bodily harm coupled with an apparent, present ability to cause the harm. Without being privy to all of the evidence it is difficult to conclude completely.

  4. VFAN I like your views on local Collingwood politics, but in this blog you seem to be condoning rape and blaming the victim. IS that what you are doing? Please clarify???

    • Not at all Witch Hazel far from it. I think the behavior of both these men was abhorrent. On closer inspection the girls behavior was bad also, showing a complete lack of respect for herself. If you want my honest opinion I think that this was a case of buyers remorse when she woke up alone in a strange hotel room having soiled herself. I think rape charges should be confined to people that are actually sexually assaulted. Having read everything I can about this case I have no doubt in my mind she gave consent at the time. She may not have remembered it until she read her texts later but by that time it was too late the two had been charged. BTW I just posted this because I found it interesting and by the looks of the views many others do as well.

    • That Cheryl is the $64,000 question and part of why the Criminal Cases Review Commission is looking into the case. My guess is that because she is shown on cctv arriving at the hotel and willingly going up to the hotel room, that shows consent. This was a jury trial that was deadlocked for over a week. Having once served on a jury myself, this may have been a compromise to break the deadlock. But it does seem wrong.

      • A woman (or man) can give full consent to a situation and then retract that permission at the very moment, split moment in fact, that she/he feels uncomfortable, threatened or simply doesn’t want to follow through with the situation. Her going to the hotel room doesn’t prove sexual consent at the time of penetration, in whatever method that may be. Again, without all of the evidence presented, and as defined under the law, we cannot conclude appropriately within the justice system, only within our own opinions, and the job of the jury is to decide in accordance to the law.

    • There are convicted sex offenders living closer to you than you might think Bud. But realistically what can you do? Do we lock them up for life or rehabilitate, that is the question. In this case the only person that knows for sure if this was rape is Evans.

    • Apparently the police went to the hotel and checked who’s name the room was registered in, found out it was MacDonald, interviewed him which led to Evans. The cops did the usual just need to clear up a couple of things down at the station lads, until they got to the station, where they separated them and charged them as soon as they said they had sex with her.

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