A child is a child, lest we forget. Children need protection and love. When bad things happen to children they should be supported.
This is why these comments from Judge Nigel Peters, sitting at Snaresbrook Crown Court made my blood boil.
They constitute the staple diet of victim blaming that we see time and time again, sadly. Not just when discussing children but also adults too.
The way the judgement reads it almost sounds as though the judge is sympathising with Neil Wilson’s plight. As is clear, his home contained “a vile stash of imagery depicting child abuse and bestiality.”
Despite this he was allowed to walk free with a suspended sentence. The judgement reads like a severe telling off rather than an admonishment for a criminal offence.
No child or adult for that matter asks to be abused. Nothing justifies abuse. Yet this girl is described as some kind of predator. How can a 13-year-old girl be a threat to a fully grown man? It beggars belief.
Yet the prosecutor Robert Colover told the court that the girl is predatory in all her actions and looks older.
This is extremely disheartening and disgusting behaviour from the judiciary. It reinforces much of the misinformation around rape and child abuse.
It doesn’t matter what somebody looks like, or how old they look. The ageing process is a natural part of biology and is different for everybody, but nothing can justify rape or abuse. In my view what justifies a custodial sentence is being in possession of a large amount of indecent material. The evidence for a clear prosecution is staring the judge in the face. So why not act?
What intrigues me is that there seem to be a whole host of myths which in people’s minds justify rape. What people are wearing, how much they had to drink and other such vapid reasoning.
Let me say this only once. There is no reasoning, and no debate which justifies any abuse let alone child abuse. If you think that I am wrong then I say your mind is flawed.
What the remarks of the judge point to is spurious argument that Neil Wilson was somehow provoked into abusing this girl. There is a simple answer. Don’t abuse. No amount of provocation even if there was any justifies this evil.
Yes evil! Why dress it up in any other way? It is evil what this man did. He robbed a girl of a childhood. This abuse will now be indelibly etched on her memory, and the system designed to protect her has at this moment failed her.
Most disturbing of all I think is the judge giving credence to the notion that the girl egged on Mr Wilson. There are two things in life which make that infinitely disputable. They are free will and self-control.
Just because somebody encourages us to do something it doesn’t mean we do it. It’s called common sense. Society would be bereft without it.
This person is a child who needs protection love and compassion and care. She is the victim here. She is a victim in this let us not forget that.
I applaud her courage in reporting it at all. It will have been a scary traumatic experience for this young woman and my sympathies go to her unreservedly.
The judiciary need to remember that sex with a minor is against the law. Seeing the courage this young girl displayed in reporting this at all, I am disgusted at the response of the judiciary in this instance. I do not care how old children look; nobody deserves to be raped and seeing a man almost let off the hook in this way it feels wrong, and I feel that justice has not been done.
I fear that this will deter victims from coming forward reporting cases in the future. Please don’t be deterred. You deserve and need justice.
Neil Wilson knew what he was doing with that violent imagery. It was his choice to obtain it, and his choice to watch it, and his choice to abuse and rape a 13 year old. He and he alone is to blame for it. The girl bears no responsibility for this evil crime.
It is time to bring an end to apportioning blame in such circumstances. Rape is nobody’s fault any more than burglary is. To suggest that a victim somehow looks older allows an abuser to justify themselves in their own mind. What should people do? Get a face transplant?
It suggests that the abuse was somehow preventable, that there is something victims could have done, or not done, to stop the abuse. Abusers could stop it easily, by not abusing.
To this end, the Attorney-General Dominic Grieve MP has announced a review of the sentencing in this case which has been welcomed by the charity Rape Crisis. I am glad that the Attorney-General has acted swiftly and decisively in this case. I hope it proves fruitful. I hope also it leads to better training for judges and all those in the legal profession to help them understand why such language is so gravely damaging to victims morale and why blaming them is wrong.
Those who are to blame for crime are the criminals alone.
UPDATE: I am pleased that two investigations have been launched into the conduct of the judge and prosecutor.