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British Judge Excuses Rapist

In an absolutely appalling case in England, a judge gave a convicted rapist a light sentence and said that he didn’t consider him a “classic rapist” because he had merely “lost control of normal restraint” when his drunk victim passed out at his house. It’s hard to not become enraged while reading this:

Jurors took two and a half hours to unanimously find him guilty of rape following a trial last week.

Judge Michael Mettyear, the honorary recorder of Hull and the East Riding, told Setford yesterday: “It’s sad to see a man of generally good character in the dock for such a serious offence.

“I do not regard you as a classic rapist. I do not think you are a general danger to strangers. You are not the type who goes searching for a woman to rape.

“This was a case where you just lost control of normal restraint.”…

“She was a pretty girl who you fancied. You simply could not resist. You had sex with her.”

He sentenced the man to five years in prison, but he’ll likely only serve half of that term. This idea that there is such a thing as a “classic rapist” who lurks in the shadows and seeks out women to rape is mostly nonsense. Almost half of all rapes are perpetrated by a friend or acquaintance, not by a stranger. A rapist is a rapist, period.

Comments

  1. AsqJames says

    Judge Mettyear:

    “It’s sad to see a man of generally good character in the dock for such a serious offence.”

    Elsewhere in the article:

    Setford, who has a previous conviction from 2009 for battery

    So not exactly an isolated case where he “lost control of normal restraint” then. If a person is convicted of two violent crimes within five years, can they still be described as “of generally good character”?

  2. Abby Normal says

    I think the judge had so much sympathy because he did the same thing to his own mother years ago. At least I assume that’s why the voice in my head keeps shouting, “Motherfucker!”

  3. oualawouzou says

    “You just wanted sex so much that you raped her. In a way, YOU are the real victim here.”

  4. Moddey says

    Also from the article:

    Judge Mettyear condemned Setford for not having pleaded guilty, which resulted in the victim having to relive her ordeal in court.

    “It is a great shame you did not have the courage to say, ‘I have made a terrible mistake and I am sorry’.

    “That would have made it much easier for her and I could have passed a lighter sentence.”

    If he had apologized for the rape, you would have given him an even lighter sentence? What, 50 hours of community service? A 300-word essay?

  5. Chiroptera says

    AsqJames, #1:

    Here in the US, “generally good character” is usually a code for belonging to the correct race and social class. Maybe it’s similar in the UK.

  6. says

    If a person is convicted of two violent crimes within five years, can they still be described as “of generally good character”?

    If they’re members of the ruling class, of course.

  7. Matt G says

    How rude of her to pass out and tempt him like that!

    What has to happen for these asshole rape apologists to get it? Do they have to experience it themselves?

  8. Anton Mates says

    Setford, who has a previous conviction from 2009 for battery

    Yeah, but he’s not a classic batterer, see–he doesn’t walk around celebrating the abstract concept of battery. He just really really wanted to beat the crap out of that particular person, so he did. It’s tragic how unlucky he is, really.

  9. dingojack says

    Oh so he’s not a sexual predator, rather he’s a sexual opportunist. That makes it just so much better!
    @@
    Dingo
    ——–
    Perhaps what the judge was clumsily trying for (putting it in the most charitable light possible) is that the rape would be considered to be in a less serious legal category because it lacked the element of premeditation.
    Not much of a legal fig-leaf….

  10. eric says

    Crap like this is why we have mandatory minimum sentences in the US. They don’t work, and they’ve probably caused more class-based unfairness than they’ve solved. But it’s cases like this that make me want them to work.

  11. Pierce R. Butler says

    Almost half of all rapes are perpetrated by a friend or acquaintance, not by a stranger.

    Ergo (fancy Latin word meaning I couldn’t stand to go looking for hard data on such a grim subject this morning), more than half of rapes are committed by strangers.

    Does “classic” in Hull and the East Riding mean the same as “legitimate” in Missouri?

  12. AsqJames says

    Moddey #4,

    “If he had apologized for the rape, you would have given him an even lighter sentence?”

    To be fair to the judge, that’s part of the sentencing guidelines he has to follow. So yes, and if he hadn’t the sentence would have been open to an appeal.

    The purpose of judicial punishment is supposed to be rehabilitative (where possible) as well as punitive (and in some cases, restorative). The goal is to prevent the person re-offending, the theory is they are less likely to do so if they admit what they did, accept it was wrong and show remorse.. It also saves the victim some distress (as the judge highlighted) and the police, prosecution and courts time and money if they make an early guilty plea.

    In truth I think the sentence itself is well within the existing standards and norms the judge has to apply. Whether one agrees with these standards or not is another issue to be taken up with MPs rather than judges. The judge here appears to have applied the law correctly in this case.

    The problem is not the sentence he imposed, but the accompanying comments and what they say about his attitude. First, one gets the impression he would have imposed a much lighter sentence had he been given free reign and not been constrained by statutory rules. Second, such comments send a worrying message to potential future offenders and to society in general – they say “just because you’re a rapist doesn’t make you a bad person”.

    Finally they raise questions about how he ran the trial – what evidence or lines of questioning did he allow or disallow? What directions did he give to the jury? How did he sum up the case before allowing the jury to retire? These are all things which may have affected the verdict and/or caused the victim additional stress, and they all may have been influenced by the attitude suggested by his comments.

  13. timpayne says

    @12. Both are forced non-consensual sex with a stranger – but legitimate rape in Mo. is less serious as it doesn’t result in pregnancy.

  14. Moddey says

    AsqJames #13:

    All good points. I completely agree about the goal of sentencing, and I understand that taking responsibility and showing genuine remorse should, in general, result in a lighter sentence. I suppose the context of the judge’s other comments made that “lighter sentence” line read to me as “I wish I could let you off easier, such a shame to go to prison for something like this.”

  15. says

    Inexcusably bad sentencing statement, to the extent that I hope this can be successfully appealed. The sentence of five years, though, is a tad on the heavy side for the UK. We don’t go in for extravagant sentences here.

  16. Loqi says

    At least if I’m ever in Hull and “lose control of normal restraint” and FUCKING KILL SOMEONE, I know there’s a judge who will sympathize with me as long as I say I’m really, really sorry. After all, I don’t look like a “classic” murderer. Hell, aside from religion, my biographic information may as well just say “Republican target audience.” Pay a few quid in fines and I’m on my merry way, secure in my status as a fine, upstanding member of civil society.

  17. says

    You may find it hard not to become enraged, Ed, and kudos to you for that.

    I’ve seen it way, WAY too many times to be able to escape just feeling tired by it, in the “Oh, gee, 2014, still not taking rape very seriously then” way.

    Frankly, I think it says something pretty frightening about the judge, given the prevalence of projection in people’s thinking. I know I wouldn’t be comfortable sleeping around him if I thought he might be attracted to me, lest he accidentally rape me. “Whoops! I slipped, and took off your clothes and began having sex with you while you were passed out! Thankfully, I’m not a classic rapist, so I think I’ll let myself off on this one.”

    Misogynist asshole.

  18. Loqi says

    She was a pretty girl who you fancied. You simply could not resist. You had sex with her.

    I’ve got a pretty amazing story for you, Mr. Judge. Someone like you may find this one hard to believe. You may want to sit down and make sure your socks are securely fastened, lest they be blown completely off.

    I have a friend who is, shall we say, conventionally attractive. Stunning, really. One night, she had one too many drinks at my place, and decided staying the night was safer than trying to drive home. She insisted on sleeping in the bed with me (or rather, she insisted on me sleeping in the bed with her, as I had moved to the couch). She was out the second her head touched the pillow. And here’s the truly remarkable part: I didn’t rape her. It wasn’t even difficult to not rape her! All I had to do was…not rape. It’s really that simple! It took about as much willpower as not trying to microwave my own head.

    I thought you’d like to know my secret to not raping, since apparently you think the desire to rape is so overwhelming.

  19. Synfandel says

    Now, now, try to put yourself in Mr. Setford’s position. There you are having a bacon butty and watching Corrie on telly while this young lady sleeps it off on the settee in your drawing room when suddenly you ‘lose control’ and your todger accidentally slips into her Lady Jane. Could happen to anyone.

  20. says

    She was a pretty girl who you fancied. You simply could not resist. You had sex with her.

    I saw your honor’s car and wallet, which I fancied, and simply could not resist, so I took them.

  21. Pen says

    And the ultimate irony:

    Judge Mettyear condemned Setford for not having pleaded guilty, which resulted in the victim having to relive her ordeal in court.

    “It is a great shame you did not have the courage to say, ‘I have made a terrible mistake and I am sorry’. That would have made it much easier for her and I could have passed a lighter sentence.”

    If judges didn’t say such astonishingly stupid things with amazing regularity, it would be easier for women to report rape and harder for men to think rape is acceptable.

  22. says

    And if it please the court, the convicted would like to say:

    “Thanks uncle mik–, er, your honor, for giving me an opportunity to be back out there in a target rich territory, sooner.”

  23. noe1951 says

    I think the fact that the judge thinks he ‘had sex with her’, speaks volumes about him How can you have sex WITH someone who isn’t even concious?

  24. dingojack says

    noe1951 – well, since you were asking*….
    Dingo
    ——–
    * although, in this case, the other way around. Rape or not-rape?

  25. lofgren says

    All I had to do was…not rape. It’s really that simple! It took about as much willpower as not trying to microwave my own head.

    But don’t you see? You had to go to all that trouble to not rape. As we all know, raping is the passive state of most men. It takes about the same amount of energy and commitment as sitting through half an hour of Cops because it came on after Family Guy and you were too lazy to change the channel. Not raping, now that takes hard work. You have to consciously choose, day in and day out, to not rape. I find it helpful to start my day by not raping ten times. Then each day I increase the number of times I don’t rape by one. Now I don’t even start not raping until after lunch.

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