So,Â Tea Ropati has been found ‘Not Guilty’ of the charge of Rape.Â Here are some thoughts people will be having right now:
1. Some will (rightfully) point out that this is not equivalent to saying that he was found ‘Innocent’ but rather that the Crown were unable to prove ‘Guilt.’
2. Some will note that the Jury took over twelve hours to come to their verdict.
3. Some will ask why this was prosecuted in the first place, given that the victim is unsure of what exactly happened.
4. Some will ask why the media focussed so much on celebrity endorsements of Ropati’s character.
5. Some will note that it was not disputed that the woman in question was incredibly drunk and will want to know whether real men of character would ever think that sex in this kind of situation was okay.
6. Some will simply note that Ropati’s defence was that he did not have ‘full sex’ with an intoxicated woman.
7. And some will assume he must have raped her because he was accused of raping her.
I’m not passing judgement on this case; I wasn’t on the jury and, frankly, the Rugby League angle meant that I didn’t really pay it that much attention in the papers (anything with a headline mentioning sport goes unnoticed). But (and there had to be a ‘but,’ didn’t there?) 2, 5 and 6 are interesting, aren’t they?
2 is interesting because there is a common perception amongst white middle-class citizenry that the longer a jury deliberates the more likely the guilt of the perpetrator. I’d be interested to know if anyone has done the required empirical work to prove that.
5 and 6 are interesting because even if you don’t think Ropati is guilty I think you could easily argue that he’s not a good person. Good people don’t have sex with drunken strangers. Even better people don’t even have sex with their partners when they are drunk. Intoxication and sexual activity is a bad idea. It’s messy enough sober; don’t make it worse.
The papers tomorrow will be interesting. I suspect people will be divided on this one (an easy prophecy).
Oh, and 7.Â SomeoneÂ has already pointed out that the victim’s behaviour was seemingly important here when really it was not. Â Rape is an awkward charge; some think the incidence of false accusations is low to non-existent and others think the incidence is high. Add to this the commonly-held wisdom that a lot of Rape goes unreported and you have a quagmire of epic proportions. Certainly, the consequences of being caught out in a false accusation will be massive, which counts towards the ‘Guilty as charged’ angle but, then again, there is, at least, some verified false accusations., and I’m not talking about cases such as this one, where, at worse, their has been a miscarriage of justice or, at best, some dodgy behaviour suddenly made excusable because alcohol was involved. No, actual instances were someone deliberately made up a charge of Rape (for reasons various. I’m going to link to a few articles here [1. andÂ 2. (This last one is from the FOX Network, which means you can make up your own mind about it's quality)]. I’m not saying these are the last word on the matter or even relatively uncontroversial. This area is a minefield of competing views and, frankly, I’m on the side of ‘Believe the woman,’ but I’m not filled with enough hubris to not have caveats attached to that).
Humans. Can’t live with them. Can’t legally kill them. Can get away with doing bad things to them.