Yesterday Louis Michael Richardson, a student at Durham University, was cleared of rape. He was accused of taking advantage of a women who was too drunk to give her consent in march 2014 and groping another at a party.
The jury took less than three hours to make their decision and the primary accuser labelled a ‘manipulative liar’ be Richardson’s lawyer.
In a statement issued on behalf of the family, they said: “It has been absolute hell for the whole family. We are relieved that justice has been done and we would like to thank the jury.”
And I couldn’t agree more, because looking deeper into the story, the girl not only exchanged flirty Facebook messages, including pictures of her breasts, but continued a sexual relationship with him, long after the alleged incident.
There was no suggestion of rape until after she’d met someone new, at which point, when on holiday with her new boyfriend, she contacted Richardson to say that what had happened was rape.
And so a fifteen month period of ‘absolute hell’ ensued, until yesterday, when the student was cleared of all charges.
However, it doesn’t really end there, because, despite being found innocent, Richardson has had his case written about extensively, his name and face exposed in the media and his reputation ruined indefinitely. Despite being cleared he will live with the doubters forever believing ‘there’s no smoke without fire’ and forever be known as the ‘guy who was accused of rape’
Even since his acquittal I’ve read comments doubting the verdict ‘just because the court found him innocent, it doesn’t mean he is’ … and mostly from women, so determined to always paint men as perpetrators, they refuse to accept that a women in a situation like this could possibly be anything but the victim.
Innocent until proven guilty, unless it’s rape, in which case men are guilty even when found innocent.
Richardson’s accuser, on the other hand, despite all but ruining his life, walks away with the right to full anonymity and suffering no consequences as a result of her false accusations at all.
It’s appalling and enrages me on behave of genuine rape victims who fear coming forward or not being believed.
Some would argue that punishing false accusers would discourage rape victims coming forward but I disagree. Women who cry rape because they’ve got a jealous new boyfriend or have been rejected should face criminal consequences for ruining a person’s life through false accusations, not to mention police time and public money. Wouldn’t this make false accusers think twice about reporting ‘incidents’ and go towards removing doubt when genuine victims report crimes.
Should the identity of the girls be exposed? I don’t think so. It’s not in the publics interest to know who they are and only acts as a modern version of a week in the stocks, hung out to dry so people can throw rotten fruit at them, or today, venomous tweets and online comments. However they should face consequences for their false accusations – and this should be made public, that it’s not Ok to accuse someone of rape on a whim and that those who do are committing a crime.
Because it’s not just women who can be victims and Richardson may have been found innocent but has not been without his punishment, and where’s the justice in that.