I’m reposting this article because I found it quite hard to find when I searched for it, yet it has critical information for anyone commenting about the Assange wikileaks case and his rape allegations.
In the article below the defence lawyer describes non-consensual acts i.e. rapes, and says he is not disputing that Assange ‘pushed at the boundaries of what they felt comfortable with’. Although the defence lawyer doesn’t consider it rape, he effectively describes rape then uses subsequent consent to suggest the earlier rape didn’t count.
Here, his defence lawyer clearly doesn’t understand UK law. In UK law, if there is penetration by a penis and the penetrator does not reasonably believe consent has been given, then it is rape. The onus is on the penetrator to gain consent. Consent is not given if there is emotional or physical coercion. If the victim is asleep then it is assumed in law that no consent is given. So if Assange’s lawyer does not deny that Assange had sex with a sleeping person who previously refused sex, it is not reasonable to imagine he believed consent was given.
Yet, here Assange’s defence lawyer describes and does not contest part of the victims’ experience of being penetrated by Assange, clearly without their consent. Their lack of consent is explicit. Assange’s defence lawyer goes on to say that because it appeared that they consented (i.e. they continued to have sex) then it was not rape. That is bollocks. Firstly there is nothing described here that indicates consent. Not fighting someone off does not indicate consent. Secondly, even if they had changed their minds and decided they were up for it, the bit where they didn’t consent was still rape. Someone might get raped and then decide to have sex with their rapist, particularly if they didn’t recognise it as rape at the time. It is very common for rape victims to not recognise their experience as rape until a while after the event when they have had time to reflect on it.
I wonder if all those lefty celebrities, politicians, ‘feminists’ who made a statement supporting him are going to make a statement about this? I haven’t heard anything from them, and this article is over a year old!
Anyway, here’s the article by Angus Johnson in full and I highly recommend reading the update with the definition of consent discussion:
Assange Lawyer Concedes “Disrespectful,” “Disturbing” Sexual Acts: July 12, 2011
Wednesday Update | A representative of the Swedish prosecution team is forcefully rebutting the Assange defense’s definition of consent in today’s hearing. Click here for ongoing coverage.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is in a London court today, contesting an order that he be extradited to Sweden to face allegations that he raped two women there last year.
Assange’s attorneys are contending that the extradition order is invalid because the actions alleged are not criminal under English law. In doing so, they appear to be conceding the truth of at least some of those allegations. “Nothing I say,” Assange lawyer Ben Emmerson told the court this morning, “should be taken as denigrating the complainants” or to “trivialize their experience.” His arguments should not be construed as disputing that they honestly consider Assange’s behavior “disrespectful” or “disturbing,” he said, or that Assange “push[ed] at the boundaries of what they felt comfortable with.”
Emmerson went on to provide accounts of the two encounters in question which granted — at least for the purposes of today’s hearing — the validity of Assange’s accusers’ central claims. He described Assange as penetrating one woman while she slept without a condom, in defiance of her previously expressed wishes, before arguing that because she subsequently “consented to … continuation” of the act of intercourse, the incident as a whole must be taken as consensual.
In the other incident, in which Assange is alleged to have held a woman down against her will during a sexual encounter, Emmerson offered this summary: “[The complainant] was lying on her back and Assange was on top of her … [she] felt that Assange wanted to insert his penis into her vagina directly, which she did not want since he was not wearing a condom … she therefore tried to turn her hips and squeeze her legs together in order to avoid a penetration … [she] tried several times to reach for a condom, which Assange had stopped her from doing by holding her arms and bending her legs open and trying to penetrate her with his penis without using a condom. [She] says that she felt about to cry since she was held down and could not reach a condom and felt this could end badly.”
As in the case of the first incident, Emmerson argues that subsequent consent renders the entire encounter consensual, and legal.
Even assuming that Emmerson is not vouching for the accuracy of these accounts but merely offering them as summaries of the charges against his client, his introductory statement, excerpted above, is striking in its tone and approach:
“Nothing I say should be taken as denigrating the complainants, the genuineness of their feelings of regret, to trivialise their experience or to challenge whether they felt Assange’s conduct was disrespectful, discourteous, disturbing or even pushing at the boundaries of what they felt comfortable with.”
At a minimum, such language would seem to preclude two of the defenses that have previously been offered by Assange defenders — that the complainants were merely spurned lovers or government plants concocting fantastical stories for their own purposes.