Abused becomes Predator?

(Previously published in the McTavish Opera blog 7 August 2013)
 
Child abuser walks free after court blames victim.

 

I was horrified not only at the lenient sentence handed down to sexual abuser Neil Wilson, but also the language used by his defending barrister and the fact that the judge hearing the case took the barrister’s comments under consideration.

Neil Wilson (41), formerly of Romford, London, admitted at Snaresbrook Crown Court, east London, to two counts of producing extreme pornographic images and one count of sexual activity with a minor, a girl of 13 years old.

His defending barrister, Robert Colover, suggested in court that the girl was promiscuous in nature, stating “The girl is predatory in all her actions and she is sexually experienced. She appeared to look around 14 or 15 and had the mental age of a 14 or 15-year-old despite being younger than that. There was sexual activity but it was not of Mr Wilson’s doing. You might say it was forced upon him despite being older and stronger than her.”

Judge Nigel Peters stated he had taken Mr Colover’s statements under consideration and added his own opinion that the girl looked older than she was. Before handing down sentence Judge Peters told Wilson “On these facts (that were put before the court), the girl was predatory and was egging you on. That is no defence when dealing with children but I am prepared to impose a suspension.” Neil Wilson was sentenced to an eight month sentence, suspended for two years.

Wilson claimed that he had tried to push the girl off, yet this flies in the face of the admitted offence, that he had watched her strip out of her school uniform before she performed a sex act upon him. This is a 41 year old man. To claim that he could not have stopped the abuse at any time had he wanted to is not merely absurd, it is an affront to all which is decent. The law is indeed an ass. When Wilson’s computer was seized, not only were child abuse images found upon it but also images of bestiality. It is obvious that there is only one predator in this case, and it is Neil Wilson, who has been allowed to walk away from court a free man.

Show me the teenager who does not think they know it all. No such creature exists. We can all say this with certainty for the simple fact we have all been there; we were all once teenage and thought we know it all. The fact is however that teenagers do not know everything, and they are certainly not capable of taking an informed decision to enter into a sexual relationship. This is why we have laws to protect them. The age of consent in the UK is 16 years old. There are many, particularly those in many states in the USA, may think that too young. It is certainly true that no matter how promiscuous a 13 year old may be, they are neither ready mentally nor emotionally to enter into a sexual relationship. I will go further and state that they are not physically ready either. Doctors will attest to treating girls for prolapsed wombs and other physical results from entering into sexual intercourse too young.

When a youngster does behave in a promiscuous manner, it is – and must always be – the responsibility of any adult they make sexual approaches towards to behave in a responsible manner and to rebuff any such approaches. Indeed, any child behaving in such a manner should set off alarm bells in the mind of any responsible adult, as to just why they are behaving that way, and just where they learned it from. That is the signal to alert the child’s parent(s), guardian(s) or the authorities to obvious signs of abuse. Children’s charities back these facts up, that children who behave in a sexual manner already are or have been the victims of sexual abuse. Bottom line, the onus is always upon the adult to behave in a responsible manner and to protect the child, even from themselves if need be. Neil Wilson took none of these things under consideration. Instead he took advantage of the situation and by doing so abused the girl in question.

There are some trying to defend Wilson’s actions by stating that some countries have ages of consent lower than we have in the UK, others by stating that there are teenagers having sex regularly and society turns a blind eye to it. Firstly, this is not other countries, it is the UK. To quote Alan Wardle of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) “The age of consent in this country is 16, before that a child cannot consent. As a society we have drawn a line in the sand on that.” I would also ask those pushing the lower age of consent line to read my comments above considering readiness for a sexual relationship. But don’t just take my word for it, research what medical and childcare professionals have to say on the matter. You will find the vast majority agree with me.

As to teenagers having sex, society indeed does to the greater extent turn a blind eye to it. Medical and childcare professionals however most certainly do not. The only reason we offer free condoms to teenagers is to prevent unwanted pregnancies and unwanted STDs. Yet any professional dealing with teenagers will always go to lengths to stress the dangers of entering into sexual relationships, they are trained to do so. And any such professional who learned of a 13 year old girl having sexual contact with a 41 year old man would alert the authorities immediately, not merely because they are duty bound to do so, but because it is obviously in the best interests of the child – even if the child in question happens to disagree.

The Crown Proscution Service (CPS) has criticised the comments of barrister Robert Colover and he has been banned from handling sexual abuse cases pending an enquiry into his comments. Not nearly good enough. He set out to blame the victim and cast slurs upon her character. For that alone he deserves to be struck off and dismissed from his profession. And so in my opinion does Judge Nigel Peters, who equally blamed the victim for appearing older than she was and for “egging” Wilson on.

My only concern is for the girl in question, who whatever her character may or may not be, is truly the victim here. I shudder to think the future she faces at the hands of her peers (and possible future employers) as a result of this verdict. I also fear for the safety of young girls in England & Wales in the future, following the very dangerous precedent which Judge Peters may very well have set. It is an accepted fact that sex with a minor is statutory rape. Judge Peters may have just set that rule on it’s head, with possible terrible consequences for teenagers being abused.

Finally, what message does this send to other teenagers who may be suffering abuse? It must take an exceptional sort of bravery to stand up in court, identify an abuser and outlay in detail the exact circumstances of that abuse. More exceptional still when the victim of abuse is a child. We already know that child abuse victims – be it sexual, physical, verbal, emotional, or psychological in nature – blame themselves for their abuse. How many now will be willing to come forward if they think their abusers will get away with it and they will be similarly blamed for the abuse. Well done Mr Colover and Judge Peters for setting the clock back 50 years.

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