From Bexhill Observer:
A LEARNING support teacher, who was accused of raping a vulnerable teenager, has been cleared.
A judge ordered a jury to find Mark Bridger, 45, of London Road, Bexhill, not guilty of two charges of rape and one of sexual assault. [...]
Mr Bridger was arrested on April 30, 2007 and denied he had any sexual contact with the teenager. He was accused of preying on the teenager and taking advantage of her because of her special needs. He said he invited her to his house and she had left after 10 minutes. [...]
Hove Crown Court heard he wrote to police three days after being arrested admitting he had sex with the girl and said she was willing. [...]
Judge Simon Tanzer discharged the jury at Hove Crown Court on the seventh day of Mr Bridger's trial. He told the jury that on the evidence which had been heard, they could not be sure the girl had not consented.
This order in no way exonerates the defendant. Anyone who views this discharge of the charges as proof of innocence doesn't understand "could not be sure" or doesn't want to understand it.
I believe this judge's confusion reflects on his attitudes about how rape happens or doesn't happen, not on the merit of the evidence presented. The defendant's switch from denial to "she consented" smacks of his realization that there was evidence to prove the girl's allegations about his actions beyond a reasonable doubt.
The only defense he had was to spin those undeniable actions into something the girl wanted or didn't fight off sufficiently to meet people's stereotypes about how real rape victims respond to rape attempts.
Too often people use a detail such as the alleged victim consenting to be at the alleged rapist's house as enough evidence to declare that no jury could be sure that the alleged victim did not consent.
This belief -- and acquittals based on this belief -- puts people in greater danger of being raped every time they go to someone else's house because the potential rapist has less fear of being rightfully accused, and rightfully convicted, of rape.
If basic ethics won't stop someone from committing rape, the law needs to be there as a serious consequence not as an outcome with odds worse for real rape victims than winning a multi-million dollar lottery jackpot.