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article imageOp-Ed: Rape and false rape — in fiction and fact

By Alexander Baron     Feb 3, 2012 in World
A guilty rapist walks free in a British soap opera; in the real world this happens all the time, but innocent men are also hauled over the coals by malicious, lying little tarts.
For those who can receive iplayer, the latest episode of Coronation Street, which features the acquittal of Frank Foster of raping his former wife-to-be Carla Connor, can be found here.
If you have been following this particular plot, ask yourself if in the absence of seeing the actual “rape” episode, would you have convicted or acquitted. The rape was not shown, but the director made it clear one had actually been committed. Why was Frank acquitted? Probably because he was the plausible man in the suit, and clearly also of good character - which usually helps. On the other hand, the twice widowed Carla had just as clearly been playing nookie with her fellow alcoholic, bookmaker Peter Barlow, and her behaviour towards Frank was shown to be, if not unethical then certainly self-serving to the point of cruelty. There was also the little matter of both her and Barlow lying under oath.
It may also be argued that the defence was able to twist the truth, but the reality is that in many everyday situations it is possible for six people to look at a set of prosaic facts and to come up with half a dozen different interpretations.
Last week, a jury at Cambridge Crown Court convicted Christine Jordan of perverting the course of justice resulting from her fabrication of a rape allegation. After having consensual sex with a stranger, she was miffed when he didn't remember her name the next time they met.
On the other side of the world, an 18 year old woman identified only as J.M. claimed to have been gang raped by five men; the reality was she too had had consensual sex, with one man, apparently a stranger, and in a public place. Sound familiar?
These are only two sample cases from one week. Many don't find their way onto Google News or even into the local press. A retrospective can be found here.
With a clear cut case, where a woman has obviously been violated, or on the other hand where she has just as obviously made up a story out of the whole cloth, there is no problem for the jury, because often the case will not be decided by a jury, either the rapist will admit his guilt and throw himself on the mercy of the court, or the legal authorities will stay the proceedings. With the former, there may be only one issue, identification, and since the advent of DNA profiling, this has become increasingly less of a problem. But pity the juror who has to choose between giving the benefit of the doubt to a wolf in sheep's clothing - perhaps allowing him to rape another innocent woman - or convicting a rough diamond on the evidence of a matronly or even virginal schemer, taking away his freedom perhaps for many years, and destroying forever what little reputation he may have had.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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