Man is acquitted of raping teenage girl after her skimpy underwear is used as evidence against her in trial
The 27-year-old accused was acquitted but not before his defense representative indulged in a bit of victim shaming in a case dominated by a case of consent
A lawyer, representing the man who was acquitted of raping a teenage girl, triggered outrage for suggesting to the jurors that they should take into consideration the type of underwear the victim was wearing when the alleged rape took place.
This has, for obvious reasons, sparked a whole lot of rage among activists and campaigners against sexual assault. Elizabeth O'Connell, representing the 27-year-old accused accused of raping a 17-year-old girl in Cork, Ireland, during her closing argument said the girl was wearing a lace thong at the time of the encounter.
According to the Irish Examiner, O'Connell said: "Does the evidence out-rule the possibility that she was attracted to the defendant and was open to meeting someone and being with someone? You have to look at the way she was dressed. She was wearing a thong with a lace front."
The man was finally found not guilty of the rape charges and he wept in the courtroom upon hearing the verdict. A jury comprising of eight men and four women deliberated for one and a half hours before reaching the verdict at the Central Criminal Court.
The head of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, Noeline Blackwell, told The Independent that she wasn't the least bit surprised that the counsel had been focusing on the victim's underwear. She said: "The reference to the girl’s underwear and the assumption and inference that the jury was being invited to draw – that because she was dressed like that she was asking for sex – does not surprise us."
Scary that some ppl think women's choice of underwear indicate a desire to have sex. Why those knickers? Maybe she liked them/they were on sale/her mum bought them for her...instead of asking y she wore lacy knickers we should be asking why he didn't obtain enthusiastic consent. https://t.co/U1mQ1iVNsD— Taryn De Vere (@TarynDeVere) November 7, 2018
She continued: "We accompany people to court and the whole time we see rape stereotypes used to discredit complainants and to enforce elements of the defendant’s case."
The decision to let the man go has sparked major fury online with one user saying on Twitter: "Scary that ppl think women's choice of underwear indicate a desire to have sex."
The user continued: "Why those knickers? Maybe she liked them/they were on sale/her mum bought them for her...instead of asking y she wore lacy knicker we should be asking why he didn't obtain enthusiastic consent."
The Sexual Violence Centre Cork then responded to the tweet saying "rape underwear" is currently a "thing in our criminal justice system". The charity also shared a video by their fellow charity, Rape Crisis Scotland.
Another social media user commented on the issue saying: "Another shameful and disgusting example of the ideology of victim blaming in a rape trial in Cork."
The case saw a majority of people talking about the never-ending issue of consent. Right after the disputed incident is alleged to have taken place, the victim told her alleged attacker: "You just raped me", to which he replied: "No, we just had sex."