Friday, June 7, 2013

Rape, AIDS, and Cockwombling

No, I don't know what it means, but being labelled a "cockwomble" is the mildest of the insults heaped upon my head of late. It sounds quite friendly though, doesn't it? Never have I been so determined to ask people to think – and never have I seen such clear reasons why they need to.

Recently I have been out and about on Twitter and bumping into stranger than usual folk. Regular readers will appreciate that I do challenge the status quo around all things criminal justice and that do so for very good reasons. Chief amongst these is that when we call for the full weight of the State to be brought down on individuals, we should do so with great care and with an eye to that most nebulous (and fragile) of ideas, Justice.

And I write with some consideration to the fact that criminal justice is not an abstract, it is the aggregation of the pain of a vast number of individuals. Equally, I know that when some issues are discussed then people engage with their gut long before they engage their brain. Even so, I was taken aback by the response to my dabbling in sexual politics and the place of sexual offences in the panoply of wickedness.

It began when I saw a campaign headed "I believe her", propagating the view that all rape victims should be believed. I assumed even the dimmest or most ideological could glimpse the flaw in that idea – sometimes an accusation is false. To simply "believe" is to throw out the justice process, essentially renders the trial process pointless. Thought everyone would appreciate my concern.... Well. They didn't. People – mostly women – popped up from the wilder regions of the ideological landscape and accused me of being a rape-apologist and a danger to women.

It always fascinates me that when you question someones position, they often assume that you hold the opposite view to them. In questioning "I believe", therefore, in their minds I was coming from the perspective of a crazy rapist. Feeling massively insulted I did explain that surely a campaign to have all allegations properly investigated would be a far better – and just – proposition. Alas, to no avail. The abuse flowed freely – never from me – and being said to look as if I have AIDS was one of the milder comments.

As an experience, this was something I found shocking. And I've spent my life in a rather robust environment. It's not as if I'm a stranger to harsh words..... Although, in the prison environment, if you were to suggest someone was a nonce – wrong un – sex offender – then it was a declaration of war. You substantiate it, withdraw it instantly, or be prepared for a beating. It's a very, very serious thing to say. Not on the web, it seems, where being nonced-off is a mere flip across the keyboard.

Stupidly, instead of engaging and exploring the issues I was blasted by this wall of ideology. Some woman cheerfully told me that they hated all men, and that all men were either rapists or rape-condoners. Imagine a guy saying something like that? It was a mindset which I couldn't fathom and which wasn't interested in exploring my views.

Rape victims can get treated shockingly badly by the police and the whole criminal justice process. Some of this can and should be addressed, with better interviewing techniques and more professional investigations. Some suffering may be inevitable, no matter what our sympathy – in the trial process, for instance. If you are going to accuse a man of such a terrible crime as rape, you need to prove your case, and be challenged on your evidence.

For the women who attacked me, this was inflammatory stuff of the highest order. Due to trials, some men – "rapists" – "got away with it". That the alternative seems to be to just throw men into prison on a nod escaped them. By even attempting to explore these nuances and balances, I became a rape-apologist. Period. Either bought into their views lock, stock or I was on the side of the abuser. To them it's simple. That my actual interest is "justice" for all involved is a subtlety of thought and intent that no one wanted to hear. Ideology smothered thought – the most dangerous of situations.

No sooner had the bruises from that begin to fade, some damn teacher was reported as being cleared to teach again despite having being caught with indecent images of kids ("child porn" is now a forbidden phrase, seems it implies consent....). All hell broke loose. Most seemed to want him chucked in prison – he received a caution – and never allowed near kids. There were knees jerking all over the internet.

I asked two questions. What useful purpose would be served by throwing him in prison? And why assume he's an actual danger to kids? Because – hold onto your hats – sex offenders come in a multipilicity of shades. And evidence shows that many who use images of abused kids (which this wasn't) stay at that level, they never commit "contact offences". So – did this guy present a risk to his potential pupils? For attempting to open the door to this discussion, the ex MP Louise Mensch has called me an apologist and defender of paedophiles.

Child protection, rape, all crimes are horrible. Instinctive responses may not be the most fruitful ones. We need to talk about these things – for the sake of the very victims people claim to care about.


  1. Very well said. Unfortunately, where sexual offences are concerned, panic and punishment seems to be the overriding reaction to it. In my opinion, justice needs to be a considered decision, not a knee-jerk reaction. Keep in questioning I say!

    1. Has anyone seen any actual evidence against Savile yet? the police have collated statements but where is the evidence? Oh - I forgot the police and tabloids have tried him and found him guilty.

  2. a society where everything is viewed as either black or white is a dangerous one - just look at what happened to the suspected rapist in Bolivia who was buried alive by his community without any trial - and making assumptions based upon sound bites of information pushes us ever closer. Don't let the barrage of personal insults put you off - society needs people like you to challenge beliefs, to encourage people to examine their own prejudices and assumptions.

  3. The problem with sex allegations is that very few can be proved either way, even more so when they emerge years, sometimes decades (in the case of Coronation Street's Bill Roach - 50 years) after the event. One has to ask - what is the point after all these years, other than the quick on-line claim for compensation. Common sense says that almost no alleged crime can be proved either way after so many years.
    As for believing all allegations - just read the SAFARI newsletters. The draw of many thousands of pounds even without convictions is too great in these financially stretched times.
    I ask again. If someone touched you when you were 15 then why wait 50 years?
    Try telling the police your house was burgled a year ago you will get the same response as if you said it was burgled yesterday - basically - go away you are a nuisance. Sex excites people and sells tabloids and the money wasted chasing celebrities would be far better used to actually solve some real recent crimes.

  4. Welcome back Ben; no fatted calf - but welcome back anyway.
    I believe that cockwomble is quite fashionable as an insult nowadays ( that's what my teenage kids tell me anyway) and it is part of the language of the twitter mob ( twatters??)
    Interesting blog, easy to see how that sentiment wouldn't fit into 140odd characters . Maybe you belong her with those of us who are more verbose and - sometimes- enjoy your verbosity too?

    1. I have been struggling with a monstrous case of writers block of late, perhaps a reflection of the turmoil in my personal life. Clearly I'm eroding it as fast as I can! I will return to verbosity with all due haste.

    2. Good on yer!!
      Liking this thread, you've gone from being a mere cockwomble to a mysoginistic cockwomble

  5. Careful, Ben, your misogyny is showing. As is your total lack of awareness of the impact of some of the things you say. I am getting increasingly sickened by your determination to place perpetrators' rights above those of their victims; it's getting really grotesque. And Ben - child porn? Really? They are images of sexual abuse perpetrated on real children. Real children, Ben. It's NOT ok to access that kind of vile material as long as there is no contact offence; while the demand for images continues, the supply of new images will also continue. Every person who accesses abuse images is fuelling the demand, and is just as guilty as those who abuse the children and produce the material. There is no distinction between the two.

    1. Misogyny?! Clearly you know little about me, my views or my private life because that is incredibly wide of the mark.

      It is interesting that you think I'm placing "perpetrators' rights above those of their victims; it's getting really grotesque". As I see it, Justice is for everyone involved in criminal justice, and the rights of victims should not be allowed to over-ride the need for fairness and justice. Allowing the guilty to escape justice is as important as convicting the innocent. So - in what way am I elevating perpetrators (alleged perpetrators, by the way...) rights above victims? What is it that you beklieve I am denying victims?

      And "child porn". Do you know that's not an acceptable term these days? Seems it implies consent. Another debate for another day... And what gives you the idea I think it's okay to access such material?! Just what in my post suggests that to your mind? I suggest that looking at images is not as bad as actually molesting a child in person, but that's never to say that such images are okay.

      And, in this particular case, as a matter of fact some would not call it "vile" material. It was Copine level 1 material - kids on a family beach holiday type explicitness, nudity not even required to meet the criteria (not the same as CPS Level 1 material). And don't shout at me about that, I didn't make the images nor write the Copine scale. It is what it is and we need perspective. Some abuse is worse than others, there is a scale of horribleness.

      I am quite worried by your comments. Accusing me of misogyny and thinking I need to be told it's not okay to look at child porn suggests you have read my piece through some conceptual lense far removed from the one in which I wrote it.

      I look forward to your further response.

    2. Actually, in the particular case to which Ben refers, the images were not of abuse, but of children in swimming costumes and the like. Though I agree that people viewing/collecting images of actual abuse are contributing to it and the penalty should reflect that. But if you have been involved with cases of false allegations (which I have) and trauma victims (which I have) and indecent assault victims (which I have) and sex offenders (which I have) you realise there are many sides to this complex behaviour. Ben is right to raise the obvious point that false allegations also create victims, and that simply believing all allegations is not the answer (that would be an invitation to make false allegations for the compensation which people now routinely seek - there are sacks of cash to be made).

      In one case which I was involved in, the victim of false allegations (children's home worker) was tried on many counts. When the police had gone fishing for other supposed victims they had got ONLY reports hailing the man as a dedicated worker who helped many turn their lives around, and offers to appear in court on his behalf. Everyone thought the reports were rubbish (some offences were supposed to have been carried out in a glass-walled office where they would have been observed). They still went ahead. The accuser (amongst other things) couldn't explain how she had kept up a seemingly friendly series of meetings (to some of which she brought her own child) for years after the supposed offences, and couldn't remember about 30% of the accusations she had made to the police. It was transparently clear that she was after the "compo". The jury took 40 minutes to find him not guilty of the rest - barely enough time to read them and appoint a foreman.

      THEN his employers sacked him, saying they thought he was guilty anyway, and I was involved at the time he was taking action against them. Their own internal disciplinary system found that they had not considered the evidence. They defended for several years, knocking the settlement down. He won, but not before an extended period of highly stressful action during which he was driven to a suicide attempt - only foiled because his partner returned unexpectedly and stopped him hanging himself. He spent a period in psychiatric hospital as a result. He got a relatively small financial settlement from his ex-employers, and lost his career, and suffered severe traumatic anxiety in the presence fo children thereafter.

      The obviously false accuser suffered no penalty.

      As with other crimes, the trauma of false accusation dowesn't stop with the court finding.

    3. oops! "reports were rubbish" should read "accusations were rubbish"!

  6. I see the #ibelieveher campaign as entirely separate to the process of justice and I'm not the only person who does. I absolutely believe in the right of any persons accused of rape / sexual assault or any other sexual offences, to a fair trial. That is a separate process. #Ibelieveher was originally born out of the case of Ched Evans, footballer and now convicted rapists. fans of his, post conviction, blamed his victim as opposed to him. They neither believed what had happened was a crime or that he (Ched) bore any responsibility. They went so far as to name her on twitter despite her rightly being granted anonymity. A disgusting invasion of privacy and I cannot even begin to imagine how that felt for her. When I use that hashtag I use it to refer to victims of actual offences. We all have a different take on things. I am a victim, but I also work with offenders so I see things from a number of perspectives. Victims charities will, of course, champion their cause. The police will look into things from an evidential perspective and understandably, given your experiences in prison, you will look at things from a miscarriage of justice perspective. When I use that hashtag I don't presume guilt on behalf of all accused, I believe in due process. It is the truth of the matter that the bigger issue (far more likely to occur) is the non conviction rate of actual rapists than false allegations, though I understand that for anyone falsely accused, that's an awful wretched, life destroying experience.

    On the issue of the teacher; he had committed a sexual offence (although you a right to point out a non contact offence). Again, people who commit non contact offences are not always automatically going to commit contact offences. If the crime of sexual abuse of children didn't produce such visceral responses in people (and understandbly so to an extent) we might be able to rehab people better. However, with SO who have not yet committed contact offences, the way to do that is to support them with good lives; good supports, jobs, relationships etc. I would argue that although it is a good job, if the teacher has a proven record in sexual attraction to children then putting him into a job where he has contact with them daily, is not a good idea. He needs to be distracted away from that. Sadly, to reduce the likelihood of reoffending, this may mean a different career.

    Lastly, you ask what purpose a prison sentence would serve. I am not commenting on this case, the man has been handed his sentence which was felt suitable by those at court more knowledgable in the facts of the case than I. However, I would say that a prison sentence generally serves three purposes; protection of the public, rehabilitation (this one is arguable at the moment with current prison resources) and lastly punishment. I would see the punishment component as being the loss of freedom. That is enough, I do not mean dehumanising people but I do feel that if you commit a serious offence (and I would group all sexual and violent offences in serious - although to varying degrees) then prison should be considered as loss of freedom (for whatever period deemed appropriate) is a reasonable punishment. There was some talk (I think you RTd something someone else said) about 'why send old men who committed offences years ago to prison, what purpose would it serve' Well, partly the loss of freedom might give them opportunity to think about the effects some of their offending had on the victims. I don't think is unreasonable.

    This is @bettyGudrun btw, can't figure how not to be anonymous!

  7. Ah, a refugee (and witness!) from Twitter... Welcome :)

    Perhaps I was disingenuous, in that I knew the #ibelieveher campaign is intended to be separate from the CJ process. Equally, after a speedy education at the hands of Tweeters, I had an insight into the Evans case. The treatment of his victim on the web was truly appalling. Those who believe in Evans' innocence don't advance that cause one iota by abusing and naming her.

    After the abuse heaped on my head I can't honestly recall what prompted me to initially respond to an #ibelieveher tweet. It was a comment that made me wince slightly, so I posited a question (which I also can't recall). The response was a shocking wall of ideology – in pointing out that some rape allegations are false (no matter how miniscule the number may be) I was swiftly labelled as a rape-apologist. It went downhill from there...

    In the framework of offering victims support and help, #ibelieveher makes perfect sense and obviously I could have no issue with it. Victims require support and there is insufficient as it is. The infammation point in the "discussion" was the bloody minded refusal of some to refuse to admit false claims are made, or if they do exist they are irrelevant in the wider context of rape. I'm awkward enough to think that, no matter what the numbers, throwing innocent people into prison is important in its own right and it should be at least acknowledged.

    Of course, in the context of criminal justice, the idea of #ibelieveher is profoundly dangerous. The police etc cannot marshall the full weight of the State onto a guy merely on an allegation. What I offered was the alternative, #investigateproperly. It is widely acknowledged that the reception and treatment of rape complainants by the police is patchy, to say the least and many women feel they have been treated dismissively when they raise their complaint. These are genuine issues that need to be addressed and the guilty brought to justice. However, treating complainants properly must not undermine the need to investigate allegations and prove them.

    I think I was unfortunate in that I bumped into some of the more ideological women on the #ibelieveher thread, who could not – or would not – separate out these issues. Some were boldly proud to be self confessed man-haters and literally insisted that all men were rapists or rape condoners. In that maelstrom, #ibelieveher did slip over from the realm of support and a safe space and into the CJ process. Men should be banged up without the hassle of investigation or proof. But these were the minority and I appreciate that the majority of #ibelieveher can see the difference between support and prosecution elements. These women were just not as loud in the debate!

    I hold no particular brief for the pedo teacher. What drew my attention was the furious kneejerking, sometimes from quarters I expected better from. That was the context in which I asked my two questions – what would be the point of prison, and is he a danger to pupils? I wasn't expecting, nor propagating, any particular answer – I just wanted to prompt people to pause, engage their brains, and think!

  8. I run a support group for people who are falsely accused of sexual abuse, and their families and supporters. I know that from those who either have done time in prison, or families of those serving time in prison, putting sex offenders together in the setting of 'offence-related programmes' produces offenders who learn how to better offend on release and not get caught. The discuss what they have done, and why and they are supposed to empathise with the victim etc. HOwever it seems that mostly it doesn't work despite what HMPs tell us.

    Guys I know who have overheard some conversations from some guys who have been attending such courses have been horrified at what they have heard. Some would say SOTP (Sex Offender Therapy Programme) encourages the offenders to share and get off on each others stories.

    If somebody is going to sexually offend against a child then prison is not going to stop them doing it. All prison does is keeps them off the streets for a while. I understand that there is a group called 'Circles' who work with such offenders and it seems they are having more success with them.

    It is very easy to put an innocent person in prison by making false allegations. I know of one guy whose accuser said that he had raped and buggered her from age 6 to 16, several times a week. Terrible if that were true. Two days after the last alleged buggery and rape she was medically examined and found to be a virgin and there were no injuries at all. The Crown told the jury that this neither confirms nor refutes the allegations. He is serving an IPP so may die in prison as he will never admit to crimes he never committed, and were never committed in the first place. Money was the motive in that case along with family rows relating to a family home belonging to the defendant's wife.

    False allegations do happen. They are made for a variety of reasons.


    1. How was he convicted in those circumstances without the physical or forensic evidence of rape? I am not saying I disbelieve the account given by you (it's not for me or anyone else here to say one way or the other), but there must be more to this than you are saying. Juries are not, as a rule, stupid and they will not, in general, convict without evidence (though I accept this can and does happen).

      That aside, I agree with the underlying theme of what you are saying. I think our courts are more political in nature than is generally admitted and there has been a shift against procedural and evidential strictness - for instance, the growing use of police bail - and the trend is frightening.

    2. So Helga, who put that teenager up to making those allegations? And did that someone think it was ok to put her through the ordeal of being examined? And there is no such thing of being found to be a virgin; that's outmoded rubbish. Why did the girl agree to accusing the man? She must have known it wasn't true, and that there were no injuries. And why specify rape AND buggery? One would have been enough. Or she could have accused him of offences that would not cause injuries. Was the girl cross-examined? And stuck to her story? How do you know she was lying and that he was innocent? Because his family told you? If you have proof that he was innocent (perhaps the girl herself told you), why hasn't he appealed? It's a very strange story, and doesn't ring true.

    3. And how were the money issues affected by his conviction? Going to prison doesn't necessarily mean loss of entitlement to property.And his wife still owned the house in any case. Were the man and girl related? Who conspired against him? What did they achieve? I think you were fed this story by someone with a vested interest; there is no way you could have first-hand knowledge of the case. And inciting or forcing a child to make such serious allegations is abusive in itself; yet you seem very much on the side of the adult.

    4. It is strange, but I for one do not doubt that such cases happen in general, and in any case this is not the forum for discussion of such detail.

      There is a different point of concern for anyone who wishes to look at these issues objectively. In sexual terms, there is a significant difference between 'abuse' on the one hand and 'inappropriate behaviour' on the other. The distinction between the two categories is not sharp, but can be like night and day. As a man, I have my own insight into this which is probably shared by the other 96% of men who, like me, are heterosexual. We have to be guarded against the possibility that we are not sliding into a situation where the state is used as a means to wage a campaign of sexual terrorism against men. I hesitate to use that formulation, because it is radical, but I suspect some of the men who are entering pleas in these cases will have behaved inappropriately on a number of occasions, and they are probably caddish men who disrespect women, but disrespecting women is not a crime. Not all of them will be abusers. Many of the accusations involve behaviour that is unseemly, and certainly worthy of disgust and condemnation, but one must ask, first, whether such transgressions, however damnable, merit the level of outrage accorded to them; and second, whether there has been abuse in the criminal sense or whether in fact there is pressure being brought to bear by police and prosecutors who are, perhaps, not exercising the strict procedural and evidential scruple they should be.

      I am also not convinced by these suggestions that the police do not investigate complaints properly or thoroughly. I have no doubt it is true in individual cases, but in general terms the police can and will only act on a sound evidential basis. Unless the evidence is present, nothing can be done in legal terms. There is a disturbing refusal to accept this in some quarters, and pressure is being brought to bear politically on the police and others, and this is something I dislike. In Britain, and in the Western world generally, our legal systems are built around due process ideology. We believe that a person accused of a crime is innocent until proven guilty, and we accept that the Crown must prove its case beyond reasonable doubt, and we also accept that a person cannot be detained or be subject to formal investigation unless there is a sound evidential or presumptive basis for this. Measures such as police bail and dawn raids on people's homes lend weight to my fear that procedural integrity in the criminal justice system is being eroded in favour of political pressures.

    5. 'Not the forum'? Oi Tom, did Ben appoint you Subjectmaster General of his blog? (And do you have an identical twin called T T?). ;-b

    6. No-one has appointed me master of anything, nor do I wish to be. I'm just saying that we cannot make meaningful judgements about specific cases on a forum like this one. The general point being made, that miscarriages of justice occur and false allegations are made, is valid because it does happen.

    7. I agree. And I was only teasing you... My bad.

    8. With regard to the case I referred to where the complainant claimed to have been raped both vaginaly and anally and she was found to be a virgin with no injuries, what the Prosecuting experts tend to put at the end of their reports is that : "This neither confirms nor refutes the allegations". That happened in this case. As this is an expert the jury will take their word as Gospel regardless of the lack of common sense.

      I have not met the family of the defendant in terms of them trying to persuade me of his innocence. I worked my way through the entire trial file (I work for a criminal defence solicitor) and saw with my own eyes the medical reports and the background of what happened.

      The motive was mainly money - jealousy that the wife had been left half the house and the mother (her sister) of the complainant was not. It was an entirely dysfunctional family, I saw the social services report on the children as they grew up, and school records where the young children were at times sent to school in filthy clothes smelling of alcohol. Possibly they had been given it to drink the night before to make them sleep.

      Children brought up in households like that often have no idea of right and wrong or truth and lies. There is no sense of conscience and it is a dog-eat-dog mentality. The family of the complainant had no money, lived on benefits and they would have received well over £35K in 'compensation' paid for by the tax payer.

      The complainant had learning difficulties and VERY suggestible - expert for defence said that despite those difficulties she was capable of lying. It is believed she was persuaded by her mum to do this by being offered incentives to lie.

      They also did not like the defendant because he suffers from a certain mental health condition (nothing to do with sex offences). That does not make him a paedophile.

      I have been involved with many other cases where the accused has given information to the police officers in interview, that they have not then followed up on, which would have helped the defence case.

      I attended a trial last year where the OIC was basically begged to talk to certain people. She refused point blank to do so and it was left to the solicitor to find the witnesses - sometimes they do not have the resources to find such witnesses, unlike the police, so the defence is sometimes left without help from that quarter.

      I have to say that this is not always the case. I know that most police officers will do their jobs diligently and will explore all angles of the case in their investigations. However, there are some who do not, and will merely gather evidence to ensure a conviction, rather than investigate the case to get to the truth.

      I do not expect anybody who has not been through this, or involved with false allegations, to believe what happens in these cases. I was such a person who believed that nobody would like about such matters, until a friend of mine was put into prison by his daughter in 2000. His appeal succeeded in 2001 on fresh evidence that proved her to be lying through her teeth.

      False allegations happen. One day it could happen to you or somebody you love.

  9. Sirikit wrote: "There is no distinction between the two."

    So does this mean that people who viewed the many images of the Woolwich attack, are just as bad as the perpetrators?

    And how do you misandrists manage to celebrate Eve Ensler's "The little coochisnorcher that could"?

    1. No, Jimmy; the crucial difference is that images of child abuse are created specifically to meet the demand for such material, whereas the people viewing images from Woolwich are merely looking at something random that's just happened. Big difference. The analogy would be people murdering Lee Rigby specifically to satisfy a demand for gore. Making something happen so you can take lucrative pictures of it, and accessing those pictures in order to get off on the gore, are both as bad as each other. And Jimmy? I'm an androphile, and have never seen any talking ladybits, monologous or otherwise.

    2. What is the evidence for this material being produced deliberately for sale, as opposed to being a by-product of abuse?

      And are you going to get around to responding to my comment on yours? I'd appreciate it.

    3. Eve Ensler wrote that the seduction of a 13 year old girl, by a mature lesbian, who had got her drunk for that purpose, was "good rape". This was not a random script, but created specifically to meet the demand by feminists, for such material.

      Whereas the comedian Chris Langham offered a defence that the 17 images of child abuse that he admitted to viewing, where available as random links on his browser. He then used his credit card to access those images, for the purpose of research for his comedy show "People like us".

      Yet Eve Ensler is exonerated by feminists, despite her deliberate incitements; and Chris Langham is roundly denounced by feminists for being at worst a voyeur, though most likely a naive sociologist, for his act of surreptitious curiosity.

    4. Ok, I've just googled Eve Whatshername, and again, I have to point out that while I disapprove of her celebration of 'good rape' (an offensive term, and insulting to victims of forced sexual activity), NO ACTUAL teenagers were abused in order to create this play. Eve E didn't film or photograph a child being raped; she just wrote a story. If I abuse someone and sell the photos, I'm evil twice over and a danger to society (and to individuals); if I write distasteful drivel, I'm a writer. So no, I don't think E E and creators of abusive images are on the same spectrum. At all. I don't intend to read her writings or see her plays, so why get my knickers in a twist about her?

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  11. The Yewtree inquiry is necessary because it appears there is, and has been, a culture of sexual licence in the entertainment industry which, on occasion, has resulted in abusive or inappropriate behaviour towards young, vulnerable and impressionable people. Whatever the rights or wrongs of the police procedural aspects, it is a proper reaction for the state to investigate, charge, prosecute, try, and when and where a guilty verdict is rendered, punish those individuals responsible. Imprisonment is a proper punishment for such crimes. Not as revenge, but because it is necessary for the perpetrators to have space to reflect on their actions, for the courts to demonstrate respect for the victims and the psychologically debilitating effects of the crimes; and, it is also necessary for the authorities to send a message to the rest of society about how it views the seriousness of this illegal behaviour and that it will no longer be tolerated.

    Regarding the concern about the time elapsed between the alleged acts and the recent investigations and prosecutions, it is to be expected that a victim of this type of abuse, if true, would feel humiliated and demeaned by the experience and would hide the mental and psychological damage for a very long time, perhaps for decades. This is especially so if the alleged perpetrator is powerful or influential or otherwise a recognisable personality, and more so if the alleged perpetrator can be expected to have the backing of a powerful organisation like the BBC. The relevancy of the time elapsed is more in the quality of evidence. The concern has to be that the Crown have to rely on establishing 'patterns of behaviour', which in itself does not legally prove anything at all, but may nevertheless lead to guilty pleas.

  12. Will do, Ben! Meanwhile, you ask for evidence that abusive images are created to order. I have worked in child protection, have heard offenders talk, and have read their shopping lists of desirable images. 'Boy and girl, aged 2-4, white, bound and gagged, must be able to see their expressions so gag should not cover face. 3 or more men to ejaculate on their faces, digital penetration of both kids'. No worries, X has access to kids that age, so if he hasn't got images like that, he can get some. There is a constant demand for more material as existing stocks of images become boring and commonplace through overuse. Abusive images are used as currency, sold, traded and shared, and the bar is constantly raised. Abuse by adult males not exciting enough? Just put out a request for bestiality, or strangulation, or a little kid in a dungeon being raped by a man dressed like an executioner. Every single one of those images shows something that happened to a real person, a defenceless child. Those kids aren't volunteers; they aren't professionals; their consent or opinion wasn't sought, and their creative input was nil. And let's not kid ourselves that accessing those images for pleasure is any less criminal than creating or distributing them; the viewer is just as guilty as those who committed the abuse or wielded the camera. The whole child abuse industry is based on supply and demand; there is a lot of status and money in images of abuse, and the worse the abuse, the more lucrative the images. The pleasure in viewing images comes from imagining that you (not you, Ben, the viewer) are the one performing the acts of abuse; that it's your semen glazing those kids' faces. The viewer knows that the kids are real, and that the images have been created for his and others' entertainment. So let's take the expression 'kiddy porn' and throw it in the bin like the trash it is. It's an evil euphemism for rape, incest and the destruction of children. And let's stop pretending that viewing is better than 'contact abuse'; the whole point of viewing is so that the viewer can pretend he's the one in contact with the child's body.

    1. If you walked up to a perpetrator of any crime, and filmed them committing that crime, I would suspect they would feel 'exposed'. It would be to their benefit if there were no witnesses 'viewing' the crime; hence the perpetrator gains most from visual prohibition. Indeed, isn't that the whole raison d'etre of our CCTV culture?

      "the whole point of viewing is so that the viewer can pretend he's the one in contact with the child's body."

      Are you telling us that men buy 'fifty shades of grey' and other 'rape fantasy' novels? I'm fairly certain that it is women who are the greater customer base for that drivel. And surely sodomy is the predilection of homosexuals, as in the Catholic Church palaver.

      I don't believe it is in the mindset of heterosexual males to think in such 'literal' ways, this I associate with women. Consider the lad at play with his car or toy plane, he will make the engine noises as though he were driving or flying; he empathises during play: he grows up to be an engineer. Meanwhile the girl plays with her dolls, and has 'conversations' with their 'real' presence; she sympathises in the fantasy of her pretend playmates: she grows up to be a Social worker.

    2. Fifty Shades of Crap is just a book; it's creation wasn't founded on real harm to real people. I don't care what rubbish people read as long as their inclinations do not cause injury and grief to other persons. Don't you see the difference? If I get off on watching little old ladies or big strapping blokes being tickled to death (literal death) by gorillas, and my mate Bob, familiar with my depraved lust, kidnaps a bunch of geezers and has them tickled to a gruesome death by a team of apes so he can sell me the pics, I'm as guilty as Bob is. If, however, said Bob writes 5674 novels full of graphic descriptions of death-by-primate, which I devour in the privacy of my own home (armed with a mega box of tissues), that makes Bob a novelist, and me a weirdo with strange tastes and no social life.

    3. What a funny coincidence, Jimmy - I'm an engineer and you're a social worker! Perhaps I should have played more with dolls... ;-b

  13. Paedophilia is a disgusting perversion, and I agree with you that people who pay for these images should face some kind of sanction in criminal law. But we must also acknowledge that we are venturing here into an intricate area of the human mind. First, paedophilia itself is not illegal, nor can it be made illegal unless we find a way to police people's conscious thoughts and unconscious desires. Second, a person can have paedophilic feelings but at the same time can, with the help of social pressure, resist any urge to act them out.

    I have no argument with the idea that if someone pays to view child abuse images they should come to the attention of the authorities, and at the least such people should be risk-assessed and offered help and treatment, but the notion that a person who views child abuse from a remote station such as a home PC is as bad as an actual perpetrator of abuse is dangerous and stupid. It's a distorted equation that has, and will, lead to the punishment, and in some cases, imprisonment, of entirely harmless people who, while having paedophilic tendencies, would never act out those feelings.

    Often what these men (most are men, I think) need is not punishment but a measure of re-socialisation. They lack the stability of relationship or they have deep-seated problems. Often they will not start out as paedophiles, as such, but rather as lonely men (both married/partnered and single) with an interest in pornography and, if left unchecked, their sexual fantasies will then escalate. This escalation is a darker feature of male sexuality, I think, which is also manifest in a milder form in other illicit sub-cultures, such as among homosexuals.

    I am not suggesting there should never be punishment for those who serve as clientele to this disgusting and illicit industry, but the matter is primarily a medical problem, and there needs to be other legislative intervention, including a curb or ban on the abusive and pornographic images that are appearing on the internet itself.

  14. People that look at child abuse images at the lowest level are as sick as those who look at it at the worst level - It just means that the worst level is not their thing. As such, the level of the (offenders) 'sickness' cannot be measured by the level of the photos.

    1. Good point, Darby. And in fact, convicted offenders will tell you they aren't as bad as some, because, 'I never touched anyone younger than 12, so I'm less bad than those who abuse babies'. Or indeed, 'at least my 'victims' were too young to remember anything, unlike that guy, who always went for pre-teens'. There is a hierarchy among abusers, but they all have one thing in common: in some way, on some level, a human child is an object of sexual fascination or interest. I have seen one man's collection of snaps, and there are endless photos of children in swimwear (his own and neighbours' kids), all with one linking feature; all the photos are of the children's midsection, with the heads cropped off. There is no abuse being shown, but the photos chill your blood all the same. The man went on to abuse children for real, and yet his photos never progressed beyond that level.

    2. What you say sounds very plausible, but do these men have this attraction to children from an early age, it being 'natural' for them, or do they develop the interest due to influences?

      Any government could block all 'pornography' (implicitly including child abuse images) from its local internet, but would this have any noticeable effect, if, as you seem to be implying, paedophilia is a 'natural' deviancy that a minority are born with?

  15. Just so you don't think I'm 'against' you, Ben, I wanted to say that I wish you well, I hope you get everything you want (except when you get something even better), and that you are able to live for enough decades in peace and freedom that when, at long last, you depart this planet, you do so as Ben, a free and fully rounded man, and not Ben, lifer on parole. (Regardless of your actual legal status). I hope you're enjoying the English springtime with all its pleasures; strawberries and cream, Jersey Royal potatoes, asparagus and sunshine. (The fully rounded bit wasn't a jibe about your weight, by the way; you look fine). Take good care of yourself, and thank you for this interesting blog.

  16. Tom Rogers you said 'I am also not convinced by these suggestions that the police do not investigate complaints properly or thoroughly. I have no doubt it is true in individual cases, but in general terms the police can and will only act on a sound evidential basis. Unless the evidence is present, nothing can be done in legal terms.'

    While I accept everybody is entitled to their opinion I find what you suggested above to be untrue as this sort of thing happens all of the time all over the country.

    Upon an allegation being made by the individual the police by my own experience do not investigate these kinds of cases impartially. Even after giving the plod on initial arrest information which showed the complainant to be lying, showing quite clearly that the allegation did not occur the police took no notice & pursued the case regardless. There has also to date been further evidence which unfortunately i cannot discuss at the moment to absolutely prove that our case is a malicious allegation which has turned into a malicious prosecution costing me and my family tens of thousands of pounds in order to defend with no way of recouping the costs after acquittal

    This is not an isolated case Tom this kind of thing with the police goes on all over the country whereby they actively pursue cases that are blatantly obviously not true but do so in order to fulfill their targets and figures reeking havoc and misery to innocent families in the process.

  17. Ben, I'd like to apologise for a couple of my comments above; it's very clear that you are NOT a misogynist, and I was out of order. My only excuse is that I hadn't read enough of your blog to appreciate quite how amazingly well balanced your views are. I'm sorry! Thank you for many hours' worth of quality reading.

  18. I agree with your points, actually. It's impossible to conduct a meaningful conversation regarding sexuality, with the common herd. Consequently, nobody attempts it... Not anymore, anyway. Hence; we get eleven year old girls being exploited in Rochdale by gangs of obscene, middle-aged men; and the banning of all meaningful discussion on the subject, in the public arena... When people accepted the concept that pre-pubescent children had a concept of sexuality, it was possible to instigate safeguards to protect them. By assuming that all forms of sexual activity below the age of consent is deviant and morally wrong, we destroy the possibility of any constructive debate, and the problem continues unabated... Even the Victorians debated the fate of child prostitutes and incest 'in camera'; we have created a society today, where fear of being accused a pervert has silenced the voice of genuine social reform... So little girls get knocked-up for the lack of effective contraception, and we all pretend to ourselves that our pubescent daughters are 'nice girls', that wouldn't dream of doing that sort of thing. Sad, eh? It's always 'them' you'll notice, when the topic is raised. Not 'us'. Not us nice, moral people; that have nice, moral children... We fool ourselves with celebrity witch-hunts and extraordinarily punitive measures for the offender, to avoid the vile suggestion that 'our' children have any form of sexuality (despite all evidence to the contrary).


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