The Lolita defense

Fortunately, though, it’s always easy and safe for women to report rape.


Anti-sexual abuse campaigners, among them the author who successfully put Jane Austen on the £10 note before having to fend off the resulting torrent of online rape threats have reacted angrily after it emerged that a man who admitted having sex with a 13-year-old girl walked free from court; while his victim was described by the judge and prosecution as sexually “predatory”.

Neil Wilson, 41, faces having his eight-month suspended jail sentence reviewed after the Attorney General Dominic Grieve agreed to look into the case yesterday. And the Crown Prosecution Service was forced to admit that its own prosecutor acted “inappropriately” when he placed a portion of the responsibility upon the victim in court.

Imagine what the judge would have said about her if she’d been 15. And if she’d been 25 – there would probably not have been a prosecution at all.

Their anger followed the comments made by prosecution lawyer Robert Colover. In sentencing, Judge Nigel Peters apparently accepted the suggestions that Wilson’s teenage victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was complicit in the abuse; despite her being well below the age of consent.

The girl was accused in court of “egging her abuser on” and was described as “looking older” than her thirteen years, something the judge said he would consider in Wilson’s favour. But anti-rape campaigners railed at the accusation that the young victim was promiscuous. They argued that it helped facilitate the sexual abuse of children.

The support group Rape Crisis (England and Wales) said it was “appalled and bitterly disappointed” at what it called “shocking and entirely unacceptable treatment of a 13-year-old sexual violence victim in court”.

So reporting rape isn’t all that easy or safe after all? Huh. How about that.



  1. unbound says

    So…a 41 year old has zero responsibility on his part. What, did he think she was 15 or 16, so it was okay?

    I don’t normally recommend lynch mobs, but it might be an option in this case. Clearly the rapist has no compunctions about going after children…

  2. dezn_98 says

    You know… it is really fking sad that we have to put up these types of arguments again and again and again. It is damn tiring to deal with the same irrationality over and over. I just could not even participate in the Sherman comments section because although it was overwhelmingly supportive, there were these foolish people who kept going on and on with trivial talking points and objections that, if they ever bothered to read up on anything, they would realize is a silly ignorant insensitive statement. It just like re-traumatized me… my family went through so much pain when someone we loved was raped… and we had to cut off a lot of sexist people who were basically filled with horrible rape culture ideology that kept re-traumatizing the victim we wanted to keep safe.

    I mean who fcking misinformed do you have to be to serious taught the idea that the authorities are to be completely trusted in these situations? All these people defending the use of a system that systematically discriminates is insane. People who say “why don’t they report it?” are just gleefully unaware that going through the “proper lines” often damages the victims and is not worth it when it often works to fck people over rather than give them a fair say.

    People have to realize that when you ask “why did you not go to the cops?” or “why did you not report it to HR or your boss.. or whatever… the underlying assumption in that sort of question is invalid. That question is based on an ideology that whatever system in question works in a balanced way. Well, they never bother to ask themselves the right question. Which is… Is the system fair? If not, than you can easily conclude that going outside the system to put pressure on it is the way to go.. rather than going through this pretty brutal and unfair experience that often works against you.

    People do not go those routes cause they often do not work.. get a fkcin clue. Anyone who has that much trust in a system that has been shown to systematically work against oppressed people.. must live in some god damn alternate reality. Or maybe, maybe because the system works for the privileged and that person just so happens to benefit from it, not understanding that others do not.

  3. cuervodecuero says

    Clearly, the crown prosector and judge had no compunction about going after children…

  4. aziraphale says

    Our system of justice is said to be adversarial – the prosecution seeks a conviction, the defence seeks an acquittal. Why is the prosecutor even thinking about discrediting his own witness? That’s the defence’s job.

  5. AsqJames says

    On Wednesday the Radio 4 PM programme interviewed a reporter from the Times, Andrew Norfolk, who’s been investigating and campaigning on the organised grooming and abuse of young girls for several years. It’s available (to those in the UK at least, not sure about overseas) here from 10m42. He talks about some of the cross-examination he’s witnessed in the 8 trials he’s covered over the last 3 years, and the effect it has had on the girls.

    Trigger warning obviously, but if you can bear to listen remember that although he’s being interviewed in the context of the outcry over the recent Neil Wilson case, he’s talking here about the tactics of defence barristers. All 8 of the prosecutions he’s talking about were successful and many of those convicted will, quite rightly, be spending decades behind bars.

    And yet there are many other men out there who abused the same girls, who are known to those girls and to the police, but who will never be brought to justice because the injuries inflicted on the girls while giving evidence mean they simply can’t bear to go through it all again. The defence barristers approach did not work for their clients, and from what he says in many cases it was probably counter-productive. What it did do was cause further mental anguish and psychological harm to the young victims and assist other offenders to evade justice.

    This is what such “tactics” in the courtroom lead to – further damage to already horrifically injured children and other criminals never facing justice.

    As I said, his examples are about how the defence barristers go about cross examination, but I think one thing he said is really, really, really important to bear in mind for any judge, barrister or juror in such trials:

    The concern when it’s revealed, if it ever is, that a child is exhibiting sexualised behaviour, should be about the terrible damage which has been done to that child.

    I don’t think that’s a particularly deep insight. You shouldn’t need a degree in child psychology to appreciate the truth of that statement. It really shouldn’t need to be pointed out to anyone, but clearly it does. It seems that steps are being taken to reduce the possibility of such crass stupidity being exhibited by judges and barristers in future, but that message needs to be hammered into the heads of every adult in the country too.

  6. thascius says

    @1-I think your lynch mob should be aimed at the judge and the prosecutor as well. What is wrong with these people- a 13 year old girl is “sexually predatory” and the 41 year old man is what-an innocent victim?

  7. cactuswren says

    I always think it’s interesting when this is called “the Lolita defense”, as if it’s a given that “Lolita” means and has always meant — that the title character in Lolita was and should be taken as — a young seductress, a sexually “predatory” teenager. Have these people even read the book? The narrator of the novel uses that actual defense — “It was she who seduced me”, and “I was not even her first lover” — even as he admits that she thought of what they were doing as a “game she and Charlie had played”, “part of a youngster’s furtive world, unknown to adults”, and nothing to do with whatever it was “adults did for purposes of procreation”. Nabokov’s character isn’t a “Lolita” in this pop-cultural sense at all: she’s a naive and ignorant child with a rather pathetic crush on her handsome new stepdad, and she thinks they’re playing an illicit but childish game she played with the kids at summer camp.

  8. latsot says

    Imagine what the judge would have said about her if she’d been 15. And if she’d been 25 – there would probably not have been a prosecution at all.

    That’s a really good point, I hadn’t thought about it quite that way.

    The idea that it’s somehow more or less OK to rape women if they’ve already committed the crime of having sex really throws the discrepancy between the way men and women are judged into sharp relief. But nobody really seems to notice.

  9. Amy Clare says

    “But your honour, I thought she was older!” “But officer, she threw herself at me!”

    Yeah, those things have never been said before by anyone so we can totally forgive the judge for taking them at face value. Ahem.

  10. Bottle says

    Judge Peters and Barrister Colover are typical of Legal Professionals who the tax payer pays huge salaries to

    The public are fed up with the Judiciary, legal professionals, the Police and the Government. protecting paedophiles

    How they cover it up and why is told in Andrea Davison’s statment to the Macur Review It is a must read and must circulate report showing up the Justice system for what it really is.

  11. johnthedrunkard says

    The language of ‘rape’ is booby-trapped.
    In archaic law, ‘rape’ and ‘elopment’ were equivalent. ‘Rape’ was more about women as Property than about People being attacked or coerced.

    No one rationalizes a mugging by saying that the victim had spent money before. The lunacy of the notion should be equally obvious in all the attempts to shift rape/assault/coercion blame onto victims.

  12. quixote says

    I haven’t been following the case, I don’t have the fortitude, but I stumbled into this which is along the same lines. Abused girls can be to blame, suggests Eddy Shah. 69 years old. Accused of raping an underage teenager. Recently found not guilty. A few quotes:

    Mr Shah told the BBC: “If we’re talking about girls who just go out and have a good time, then they are to blame.” …

    “In a civilised society there’s got to be more checks and balances before these sort of accusations [i.e. rape] are used.”

    He also talked again about the suicidal thoughts he had experienced after his arrest.

    “Every night I worked out different ways of committing suicide to help me go to sleep, actually,” he said.

    The poor diddums.

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