Britain: False rape accusation causes great distress and damage
Women don't make false rape accusations: Any feminist will tell you that. Good if it were true
Are there worse things for a man to be called than a rapist? If so, Peter Bacon - who still has the word ringing in his head and surely will for the rest of his life - struggles to think of them. 'Rapist. It's up there with paedophile, isn't it?' he says. 'Rape is one of those things for which there are no excuses. Socially, it's one of the worst crimes because no one can ever justify rape. 'I'd say it is worse even than murder, because there can be circumstances where you can attempt to justify murder. Personally, I'd have preferred to be in that dock accused of murder than rape.'
Of course, Peter isn't a rapist. This week a court said so. A jury declared he was nothing more than an ordinary young man who once had a drunken one-night stand - albeit one which went horribly, terrifyingly wrong. And yet the 26-year-old found himself accused: first, by the woman he slept with - a respected lawyer no less - who opened her eyes the morning after and screamed. Then by the authorities, who agreed that charges should be pressed.
It took more than a year for the case to come to court, and that has meant 13 months of whispers, finger-pointing and the assumption that everyone you encounter is thinking just one word. 'I can't even begin to describe how horrible that is,' he says, in his first interview since walking free from court on Thursday. 'Everywhere you go, you feel there are eyes boring into you. It was there in court, obviously, with the jury, the judge and people in the public gallery. I was thinking: "These people think I am a rapist. My God, they think I am capable of that." 'Outside court, too. People in the street. I was even paranoid of the builders in the car park. My friend would say "They are not looking at you", but in my eyes they were. Everyone was.'
And still are? He nods. The worst thing about a rape accusation, he points out and rightly so, is that it isn't shaken off easily. 'I'm an innocent man, but those charges are out there, for ever, on the internet. And these things stick. Some people will remember that I was actually acquitted, proved innocent. But for others, I'll just be yet another man who got away with rape, and that is devastating.
'What makes it worse is that she was the person she was. Imagine being accused of rape by a lawyer, for goodness sake? She knew the courts system. 'I was just this nobody - the accused. I was the lowest of the low.'
Peter admits that he harboured his own preconceptions about rape charges before 'all this'. Only a certain type of man would even find himself on a rape charge in the first place, wouldn't he? 'Exactly. And that man wasn't me. I'm not aggressive. I don't treat women badly. In fact, 80 per cent of my friends are women. It had never occurred to me that I needed to be worried about a one-night stand. I just never thought in a million years that I would be anywhere near a rape case. And yet I was, right in the middle of it.'
And how. His account of his ordeal should be read by every unattached young man heading for a night out. And every woman who might be tempted to mix alcohol and sex, then think of the consequences too late.
'At one point I thought I'd go to prison,' says Peter. 'When I first saw a lawyer, I said: "How bad could this get?" And he said: "You could be looking at 25 years." 'I just cried in the police cell, and that isn't me. I don't cry. But I pulled a blanket over my head, turned away from the security cameras to face the wall and just sobbed my eyes out. 'I cried again a year later, in the toilets of the courtroom, on the third day of the trial. My face had been all over the papers that morning. I couldn't get a grip. The security guard was just standing there as I cried myself stupid.'
In between those two sobbing fits, there were plenty more anguished moments. Peter was the first member of his social group to go to university, but he dropped out of his sociology course because he couldn't bear facing his fellow students after the charges were brought. 'I was at university in Kent, but got on the bus back home to Coventry the day after I was charged. I wanted to run away because I was so ashamed. Not because I'd done anything wrong, but because I knew people wouldn't see it like that.'
He still wonders if his life, as he had planned it, might be over, even though it took a jury only 45 minutes to return with an emphatic 'not guilty' verdict. He may be back at university, but his romantic life has pretty much ground to a halt since that February night of last year. 'I'd like to have a girlfriend, but it's been impossible. You get chatting to a girl in a bar and you have to tell them sooner rather than later, don't you? How the hell do you start that conversation?'
The career he had planned is pretty much in tatters, too. 'I'd been thinking of teaching, but that's out the window. 'My DNA is on a database. There are records. I don't know if this case would be brought up on an initial search, but if they go digging it will be there. And who would let me work with children? 'If it was a choice between someone with a rape charge lingering in the past or someone without, which one would you choose? I'd do exactly the same.'
So how on earth did an obviously bright young man, with impeccable manners, find himself in this situation? The first thing he seems desperate - perhaps understandably so - to stress is that he is no womaniser. Before the romantic encounter in question, he'd had three serious relationships, each lasting between a year and two-and-a-half years. 'I do get female attention, yes, but I'd say I am the sort of bloke who is happier in a relationship, but I'd split up with a long-term girlfriend just before that night, and, yes, I was single. 'People have assumed I was out there looking for sex. I wasn't; I was just having a good night out. But when things happen, well, I wasn't going to say no.'
His accuser was not a stranger. They had met twice before that night, having been introduced by a mutual friend. In her 40s, she was several years his senior, and from the off he had been intrigued by her. One night, having a few drinks after work, he received a text from his friend, inviting him to the woman's house. He, of course, was only too happy to go along. 'I was fascinated by her, yes, of course. She was a lawyer. Successful. Attractive. She had great taste, liked good music. 'But I didn't go there thinking it was going to end in sex with her. It was a social thing, really. I thought I'd like to try moving in those circles, meeting important people. I wanted to get on.'
That the attention he received from this woman had a sexual edge was flattering, though. 'Of course. She's an attractive woman. What young man wouldn't be flattered by that?' When he arrived at the house, he'd already had three beers. He can't remember how much wine he went on to consume, but the woman told the court that she had something approaching four bottles of wine.
In a sober courtroom, these sorts of events can sound like hedonistic orgies, but Peter says it was nothing of the sort. 'It was just your typical get-together. Music. Dancing. Everyone a bit merry. That's how I would describe her. She was on great form, chatty. She'd obviously been drinking, but was she paralytic? Absolutely not.'
There was flirting, and lots of it, he says. When the other friend left, leaving Peter and the woman alone, things got physical. They went upstairs. She performed a sex act on him. Then there was full sex. He is embarrassed about going into the nitty gritty. For good reason, too. However nice a guy he seems, there is something repellent about the idea of a man pursuing sex with a woman who has consumed four bottles of wine. It isn't gentlemanly, is it?
'But she didn't seem drunk to me. Merry, yes. Off her face, no. If she'd been all over the place, falling, not making any sense, I wouldn't even have thought about sleeping with her, of course I wouldn't. It would have been disrespectful to her, and to me.' Instead, he says she was 'fully cooperative' and the liaison was ' reciprocal'. 'Yes, she enjoyed it as much as I did, or she seemed to.' Did she do the seducing? 'I'd say it was a mutual thing. We were adults. It was two adults doing what two adults do.'
Was it always going to be a regrettable sort of one-night stand, though? He says, not necessarily. 'I'd say I regarded it as a one-night stand with potential. I don't know if it would have led anywhere, but the possibility was there.' He certainly wasn't planning to bolt out of the house at the crack of dawn, though. 'Absolutely not. There was the expectation that I'd have a coffee, chat a bit, help her tidy up the house, which was in a mess after the night before. Instead, it just became . . . madness.'
What he means is that the woman opened her eyes, took one look at him and became hysterical. 'She was just screaming at me, saying that because she didn't remember anything I must have raped her. She was going on about how the law had been changed to protect women from people like me. I was completely thrown, just bewildered. 'She was screaming at me to get out, and I was running round trying to find my clothes. I got my trousers and shoes, but I couldn't find my socks. They tried to make something about that in court, but my God, what did socks matter in all of that?
'I remember her going on about how she needed her phone, so I went to the kitchen and got it for her. I knew I was going to leave, but I thought she would be safe if she had her phone and could call for help. 'I just wanted a minute to think.' On the doorstep, he says he needed only ten seconds to realise how serious things were. 'I did the only thing I could think of doing, which was to call 999. Afterwards, I did think: "Was it an emergency?" Well, yes, at that moment I thought it was. I just wanted the police to come and, I don't know, sort it out. I remember saying: "You have to get here."'
Did he call the police for the woman's sake, or his? 'I don't know. A bit of both, I guess. She was in a terrible state and I didn't know what else to do.' The 999 operator told him it was not an emergency and he needed to contact his local police station. He walked straight there - only to find it closed. 'It was all a bit farcical, looking back. I couldn't even find the door, then realised it was a glass thing that was locked.
That afternoon, the police did turn up and arrested Peter. He was allowed to make his one call from the police cell before he was questioned. 'I called my dad and said: "Dad, I've been arrested for rape." I tried to explain more, but they said: "No, that's it." My poor dad. For four hours that was all he knew. He was going out of his mind.'
And so began what he can only describe as 'this unimaginable nightmare, from which there was no waking up'. 'At every step, I thought: "Someone will realise how mad this all is and stop it." But that never happened, until, thank God, the jury came back.'
'The thing I've come to feel angry about is how powerless men like me are. Traditionally, there have been very strong feminist voices lobbying about rape issues, but there is no male equivalent, and maybe that is needed.'
Another deliberately false rape accusation in Britain
Man cleared of rape after court shown phone footage of woman 'actively' taking part in sex. The bitch should be sued for false accusation. The Brits have occasionally put women away for that
A businessman was cleared of raping a university student today after jurors were shown video footage of their sex session. Gary Taylor, 41, was accused of attacking the 27-year-old woman after turning up at her flat with cocaine and a bottle of red wine. The woman, who can't be identified for legal reasons, told jurors that Mr Taylor forced her to perform a sex act on him and then raped her in her living room.
But during cross-examination she was shown footage Mr Taylor had taken on his mobile phone during the encounter on September 26, 2008. Mr Taylor's barrister Karen Holt said the footage showed the woman 'actively' performing a sex act on him.
Judge Christopher Moss QC closed the public gallery before a graphic clip filmed by the woman was shown to the jury. The judge warned: 'You are going to see a clip which from what I have been told you may find extremely distasteful. To avoid making it a peep show, I have ordered the public gallery to be cleared.'
After the footage was screened, Miss Holt said to the alleged victim: 'You and Mr Taylor were very familiar with each other and comfortable in each other's presence.' The woman said: 'I don't think I was happily talking to him.' She also denied 'actively' performing a sex act on Mr Taylor.
The prosecution offered no evidence following advice from the judge. Mr Taylor, who runs a multimedia company, was cleared of four charges of rape and walked free from court.
The Old Bailey heard police had arrived at the victim's flat in Wood Green, North London, in the early hours of the morning after reports of a disturbance. She made a complaint of rape and Mr Taylor was arrested at the scene. Giving evidence she told the court: 'He wanted to be intimate. Maybe he thought he could force me into it but he went too far. 'He thought he could be persuasive and it went too far. He kept trying to kiss me that evening and I was saying no. 'I was quite drunk. He was on top of me at some point with his hand on my mouth.'
Mr Taylor, from Hornsey, North London, denied four counts of rape, including two of rape by oral penetration. The woman had not seen the film of her having sex with Mr Taylor before it was shown to the court.
Are women sexually liberated, or just confused?
Are we living in an age of sexual freedom, or are women more confused and unfulfilled than ever?
We live in a highly sexualised society, one that has handed women the ostensible right to be as free, as wild and as pleasured as they wish. From the cultural looks of things, you’d think women were having sex round the clock. Agent Provocateur is a brand like no other. Soon it will add furniture and bed linen to its sales of erotic books, £175 handcuffs and the sort of sellout frillies seen on your favourite female fashion icons.
In China, vibrator manufacturers are one of the few industries weathering a global recession. Rampant Rabbit enthusiasts rave about the latest model, the bumper stickers on their cars proclaiming, “My other ride is a rabbit”. Sex toys are chic lifestyle accessories. Recently, a PR punting JimmyJane’s Little Something line of precious-metal vibrators closed her pitch with “Kate Moss bought the gold one”.
Older women are characterised as foxes or, the more predatory American term, cougars. Just work at it and you fortysomething pluses can retain a plumptious, fecund look well into middle age. If you don’t find that older-lady-loving junior down the pub, meet him online at the unequivocally named Toyboywarehouse.com.
We appear to be living in a golden age of female sexual awareness and fulfilment, doing anything and everything on top of what our sexually naive mothers and grandmothers apparently did out of duty or for a washing machine. Our favourite lady authors have written In Bed With, a collection of erotic stories that its editors, Kathy Lette and Imogen Edwards-Jones, call “female masturbatory material”. Nike sells sport to women with the promise that it will improve their sex lives. Even our favourite blusher, by Nars, is called Orgasm.
Yet, in among the glossy portrayal of our intimate moments, the truth about our sex lives is notoriously difficult to track — not least because people lie in surveys that are already suspect in their mission. What is clear is that women find the cultural environment a gigantic cause for performance anxiety. It wasn’t hard to find someone who had actually experienced the following scenario, outlined to me by Brett Kahr of the Society of Couple Psychoanalytic Psychotherapists: couple in bed, wife “down there” performing an “oral sex act”, husband neatly propped up on the White Company best, answering e-mails on his BlackBerry. And this very obvious example of the modern world entering the bedroom is only the proverbial tip. The window of Agent Provocateur is not the window into the sexual soul of British women, more’s the pity.
Kahr’s study of 14,000 British people found that 21% of us have no sex at all, 32% have it once a month and 44% once a month to once a week. According to these figures, women are having less of everything than men, except celibacy. And while the April cover of Cosmo screams, “Your orgasm! The secret to super satisfaction every time”, a Stanford University study found women in sexual liaisons orgasm only 80% as often as men, when, in theory, they could easily beat men hands down, as it were. Finally, in totally unscientific cyber-noseyiness, I posted something on Facebook asking women if they were “getting enough”. Most answered, “no”, citing the obvious, such as tiredness, stress, kids and lack of time and/or men.
Fifty years ago, in The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir described womanhood as a socially constructed activity; today, after several waves of feminism, and a recognised right to contraception, sexual pleasure and all that, we still find our sexuality defined by pop music, glossy magazines, advertising and pornography. Dr Petra Boynton, a sex psychologist, sees the very commercialisation that makes us seem so free as the reason we’re not satisfied. “The scented candles, the lingerie, the stuff — it doesn’t explain how anything works, it just presents a dream,” she says. “Sex has become mandatory, competitive and commercialised. Vested commercial interests suggest it could be great, if only you had their product.”
Are the women walking down the street proudly swinging their pink-and-black AP bags empowered, sexually charged and free, or are they just... shopping — our sexual empowerment often seems all about the bucks and not the actual bang. Joe Corre, the owner of Agent Provocateur, sees the brand as empowering — and on a fundamental level, who isn’t going to give three cheers for nice knickers? “Our ideal is to create a sense of sex and power, of celebrating femininity,” he says. But the pressure can be crushing. “Two years ago, on my birthday, I spent a lot of money in Agent Provocateur,” says a thirtysomething on her second marriage, including “handcuffs, stockings and several sets of lingerie. It was memorable for all the hope I pinned on it. My husband and I stayed in a hotel and I remember a great sense of disappointment that the sex wasn’t perfect”.
The idealised body
At Beautcamp Pilates, a chain of exercise studios that serves the very women who like to swing by AP to see what’s new in, there are whispers about women having the odd orgasm during class. Its workout machines, called reformers, involve taking a very coital position, legs spread wide in the air, in something like gynae stirrups. The owner, Dominique Day, is circumspect, however. “A few yummy mummies have admitted they come here as a replacement for sex,” he says, “because they are not getting any from their stressed husbands.” Meanwhile, Rowan Pelling, the sex commentator and writer, says the reason women aren’t getting enough is that they’re “too busy going to the gym when they should burn off those calories in bed”. The attempt to hone an idealised sexy body is certainly part of the passion-killing zeitgeist. Boynton says the commercialisation of sex as status symbol “sets up the idea that sex only happens in really pricey knickers. It excludes women. It’s an elitist model from which women without money or a certain body shape are excluded”.
A lovely-looking make-up artist in her mid-thirties agrees: “It’s all so competitive. Women are made to feel they have to look the part for ever, you can’t just let it go. My partner left me eight months after I had a baby, saying he ‘couldn’t feel a thing’. Deserted, I felt fat, saggy and unattractive. I find everyone, from Madonna to Kerry Katona, totally depressing, with their sparkly looks put down to ‘lots of fruit and veg’, when we all know it’s personal trainers, Botox and retouching.”
Bettina Arndt outrages the feminists with some home truths again
I knew her father, Heinz Arndt, the economist. A very realistic guy. Bettina seems to have inherited that. I am glad that she seems to be firing on all cylinders again after the tragic death of her beloved husband, Dennis Minogue. Part of her strength probably comes from the fact that she was a "Daddy's girl" when she was a child. As she has rightly said: "There's nothing like growing up with a dad who adores you, you know". There's a great interview with her here
The sex therapist Bettina Arndt's latest book The Sex Diaries has been selling like hottie-cakes, with 10,000 off the shelves in the first three weeks. But it's not just book sales that are up. There may be an Arndt-led recovery of bedroom hanky panky if wives heed her message that their poor deprived husbands deserve more sex.
Based on the bedroom revelations of 98 Australian couples over six to nine months, it has lifted the lid on the unspoken topic of men and women's biologically mismatched sexual desire. From the Hindustan Times to the E Yugoslavia website, Arndt's exhortation to women to do their "wifely duty" and beef up the sex supply, has certainly been a headline grabber. "It simply hasn't worked to have a couple's sex life hinge on the fragile, feeble female libido," says Arndt. "The right to say 'no' needs to give way to saying 'yes' more often."
Of course she has been excoriated by feminists for saying that much marital disharmony might be overcome if women just "put the canoe in the water" and start paddling, even if they don't feel like it. "Bettina Arndt rape cheerleader" was one furious blog response. "F--- you, Bettina Arndt," was another. Eva Cox of the Women's Electoral Lobby launched a counterattack, claiming that it's men's own fault they aren't getting enough sex, because they don't do their fair share of housework. "After an evening of organising kids, dinner, the shopping, the washing, the homework, etc, maybe [women] are too tired to want sex."
It's an old excuse. As Arndt says, any time men complain about something, even in the anonymity of a sex therapist's book, feminists hit back with the housework furphy. The fact is, when you add up in-home and out-of-home duties, men work just as many hours as women, and sex has very little to do with it.
The latest ABS social trends survey, released last week, found that women do almost twice as much housework as men - 33 hours and 45 minutes a week. But while men might not do as much vacuuming and ironing, they spend a lot more time than women working outside the house in paid jobs - an average of 31 hours and 50 minutes a week, compared with women's 16 hours and 25 minutes.
In other words, men and women do about the same amount of work in total - about 50 hours a week each. It's called division of labour and it has long been the negotiated settlement of marriage.
Men have tried to up their share of housework - by 8 per cent - since 1992. But it doesn't seem to have increased their share of sex, judging by The Sex Diaries. In her chapter "Laundry Gets You Laid?", one of Arndt's diarists describes her husband as the "domestic God", yet their libidos are still worlds apart.
Another diarist, Mary, 42, has put her husband on sex "starvation rations" until he does more housework. But, she admitted: "[My husband] argues that even if I were a lady of leisure with a maid and housekeeper and no need to work … I still wouldn't be interested in sex. I deny deny and deny, but deep inside I have to admit there is a chance he might be right."
Housework is just one of the excuses used by women to fend off their partner's advances. Only 10 per cent of Arndt's female diarists had higher sex drives than their partners and her book is full of the anguish of the other men, whose wives have just lost interest.
Arndt said yesterday that female libido is so fragile it is easy to find excuses not to have sex. But desire is a decision. Women "have to make a decision to put sex back on the to-do list because if you allow these other things to swamp your sexual interest your relationship will be in real trouble".
Of course, "resentment is a passion killer", and unequal share of household duties has long been high on a woman's list of resentments. "But it strikes me as being so unfair that women feel entitled to voice their complaints and demands of a relationship, yet a lot of men have at the absolute top of their wants and needs more sex and it's been totally ignored. "How can we justify simply shutting up shop or forcing a man into a life spent grovelling for sex?"
The picture Arndt gets from her male sex diarists is in large part a lament for love denied. They love their wives but desperately need the intimacy they used to have. They feel cheated. "I am totally at a loss as to what to do," writes Andrew, a 41-year-old diarist, married for six years, with two children. He and his wife used to have sex every day but are down to once every five or six months. "I do love her and I think she loves me but I cannot live like a monk. "What makes women think that halfway through the game they can change the rules to suit themselves and expect the male to take it?"
Arndt is not suggesting women have sex against their will, but to heed new research that shows they may still enjoy sex even if they didn't crave it in the first place. Mismatched desire need not spell the end of a couple's sex life.
The other side of the equation is women's guilt at their own lower sex drive. Understanding that male and female sex drives are different was the key to rapprochement in the bedroom, she said. "It's all about walking in each other's shoes. Most of the women are upset that they don't want sex. It's not a deliberate thing … but we have to find a way around it if we have marriages lasting 40 years."
Since the book was published, Arndt has been inundated with emails and messages from frustrated men. But she has also touched a nerve with women. The day after Arndt appeared on the ABC's Lateline to promote her book, a friend told her that every woman in her tuckshop group had sex with their husbands.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
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