Not guilty does not mean innocent – the andrew lovett case and other things

Every time i hear about someone being acquitted of a crime like rape i am absolutely filled with rage, yet at the same time my rage is tempered with the sobering statistics that the case at hand would be one of only a handful of reported cases that makes it through to trial let alone result in a conviction. The cynic in me is not surprised that andrew lovett was accquitted. But at the same time i cannot help but think about the system in which these crimes are tried, the way evidence is presented, and the way witnesses are treated.

I sent an email this morning to someone who’s anguish at going through trial is to the point where she questions if she can proceed. My own case was a case of historical childhood sexual abuse that due to the ten years it took me to come forward, there wasnt enough evidence to proceed. But this blog is not about me.

In the andrew lovett case consent was the question posed to the jury. The defence claimed that the complainanant consented to having sex with lovett believing he was someone else. The fact that the victim was intoxicated and recently amnended victorian law clearly states that intoxication impairs consent appears not to have made mention in both the media coverage of this trial or the way the jury were approached. But. One of the key flaws in the way sex crimes are tried is the idea of beyond reasonable doubt, the burden of proof being on the prosecution to prove a crime occurred. This works for every other set of crimes, but not these. It leads to dirty defence tactics, selective evidence and a variety of other things that make victims, often rightly so, believe that the system protects the alleged perpetrators rather than themselves. At almost every stage of proceedings a victim is forced to recount her story often in detail. This does not happen for the other side.

No one’s high profile identity (andrew lovett was a footballer) should protect them or afford them media coverage that could potentially sully the victims reputation.

To whoever this victim was – you are not alone. Your bravery on reporting this crime should be comended, along with your ability to see it through. I hope you are able to rebuild your life and reclaim your dignity. Not guilty does not mean innocent.

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