Saturday, 27 November 2021

Rape victim says judge ‘right about women’s drunkenness’


MANCHESTER: A rape victim whose attack led to a judge saying drunk women were putting themselves in danger has defended the comments, saying the judge was “right”. Megan Clark, 19, was raped by a man she met in Burger King when she was drunk after a night out in Manchester. The trial sparked controversy after the judge said the drunken behaviour of some women was putting them at risk. Miss Clark told the Victoria Derbyshire programme the judge told women to “be careful”, saying it was “good advice”. The teenager, who waived her right to anonymity to speak to the programme, said she took the judge’s comments in “a positive way”, adding that she did not believe she was “victim-blaming”. “She was right in what she said,” Miss Clark said, in her first interview. Last month, Ricardo Rodrigues-Fortes-Gomes, 19, was found guilty at Manchester Crown Court of two counts of rape last July. The court heard how he ignored Miss Clark’s screams while he attacked her. A witness who rang the police also filmed the attack on a mobile phone and Rodrigues-Fortes-Gomes was sentenced to six years behind bars. A second man was found not guilty. Miss Clark had been drinking lager and vodka before the attack and had inhaled the party drug amyl nitrite. At the end of the trial, Judge Lindsey Kushner said that “as a woman judge” she felt compelled to plead with women to protect themselves from predatory rapists who “gravitate” towards drunken females. The judge – in her last trial – said women were entitled to “drink themselves into the ground”, but their behaviour was also putting them in danger. Her comments were described by campaigners as “outrageous” and “misguided”.

Miss Clark told the programme she had initially blamed herself. “I [now] know it wasn’t my fault. It’s never the victim’s fault – they aren’t the problem regardless of what I ATTACKERwas doing. “I felt I put myself in that situation. I need to be more careful.” She added: “I think the judge was using my case, it was her last one, and she wanted to make a point.” Miss Clark said she felt “judged” when she told people she had been raped, saying she felt some people blamed her for the attack. “There is definitely still a stigma. Victim-blaming is such a big thing. I did tell people what happened and I felt judged after it. “People blamed my behaviour. That’s why people don’t talk about [rape].” She said she could see why people do not report rape and do not want to go through a trial. Having gone through the legal system, Miss Clark said she was disappointed with the end result and the sentence handed down by the judge. “I am angry and it feels so unfair. So many people go through it, people get raped, we need to deal better with it.” She said she would not have reported the crime if it was not for the fact a witness was filming the rape, footage she had to watch before being cross-examined in court. “It was pretty horrible to watch. It was different to how I remembered it. But it wasn’t nice to watch.” And Miss Clark said she would not go through the legal process again – but urged other victims to report rape. “My message is don’t be discouraged by the system letting us down, or people being judgmental. That will happen regardless. “We all know it’s not our fault. I would encourage people to report it.”

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