Overpaid, over-sexed and holding the rest of us in utter contempt. Who is that, the average bankster? No, a certain type of footballer. Today, one of them is paying the price for his arrogance as he begins his first full day as a convicted rapist.
Last year, soccer player Tesfaye Bramble was gaoled for rape; yesterday it was the turn of Ched Evans.
People who know about the misnamed beautiful game will know the name Stanley Matthews. He died in 2000 aged 85, and is the only player to have been knighted while still playing. According to that font of all knowledge Wikipedia, when he moved from Blackpool back to Stoke City in 1961, he was given a two year contract at £50 per week. Even allowing for inflation, that is chickenfeed compared with the money paid leading soccer players today. He must be turning in his grave at the thought of players being paid obscenely high wages while behaving even more obscenely. Ever heard of roasting? This involves two or more men having sex with a young woman, often two at a time. The term appears to be derived from the act looking like a spit roast, but let’s not go there.
All good and fine if all parties are consenting, and if the participants, especially the woman, can look themselves in the mirror the following morning. If the woman does not consent, there is a different name for this obscene practice. This appears to have been what happened the night Welsh international striker Ched Evans and Port Vale defender Clayton Macdonald picked up a drunk teenager at a Denbighshire hotel in May last year.
Okay, a young woman who has a lot to drink then goes for a ride with two strangers is asking for trouble; she may even end up being murdered. But what about the other side of the coin? Rape is a voluntary act for one party. Or maybe for two parties in this case, because although Evans was convicted, his co-defendant was acquitted, in spite of admitting having sex with the victim.
With an arrogance that can only have alienated the jury, Evans claimed that as a footballer, and a good looking one at that, he could have his pick of women.
What is every bit as disgusting as the behaviour of these two men - even accepting Macdonald’s acquittal - is the fact that his club, Sheffield United, did not suspend Evans the minute he was charged. This should have been automatic, and would have in any other sport, certainly snooker. If his club didn’t suspend him, why didn’t the professional body, the Football Association, step in? An ordinary working man would probably not even have been granted bail, but ordinary blokes don’t commit crimes of this nature. Although only the two men had sex with the girl, others were apparently attempting to film them from outside. What does that say about the so-called beautiful game?
Evans is now starting a five year sentence, which is probably about what a man of his age could expect for a first offence, though in this case one has to ask if it is not unduly lenient.
Ched Evans was paroled in October 2014 still protesting his innocence. The case has attracted considerable publicity because his club has considered re-signing him. Broadly speaking there have been those on one side who claim he has served his time (although technically he hasn’t until his parole is finished) and he should be given a second chance, while in the other corner there are the usual suspects, some of whom continue to mouth “rape is rape” added to which is the chorus that this sends the wrong message about violence against women, and so on.
Evans has also been taken to task for failing to face up to his guilt, but of course many men and not a few women who have been convicted of truly heinous offences have continued to protest their innocence long after both conviction and release, and in some cases have proved it. The transcript of Cheddy boy’s failed appeal was published some time ago. At the time of his conviction I was of the opinion that Macdonald was lucky to be acquitted; I am now of the opinion that Evans was unlucky to be convicted. The complainant in this case, I suppose we should call her the victim, was indeed drunk, and claimed to have had no memory of what happened after 3am. That may be true, but she shared a taxi with Macdonald, walked into the hotel of her own volition, and if Macdonald is to be believed, had sex with him willingly.
Drunk or not, she didn’t go there to play dominoes. She woke up late the next morning having wet herself. In my misspent youth I got drunk a few times, but never so drunk that I did that, and indeed I doubt many other people have either.
According to Macdonald, it was she who suggested she go back to the hotel with him, and she who initiated sex with him. There is no reason not to believe him. When Evans says the sex he had with her was voluntary, I am inclined to believe him, Macdonald backed up his claim. Even a drunk woman can resist an attacker or scream; she did neither. Was she too drunk to consent? More to the point, was she the sort of girl even a professional soccer player would take home to meet mother?
This case made me think of two other cases: the Steubenville High School case and the rape of Desiree Washington by Mike Tyson. I thought of these in particular because although the settings were similar, that is where the similarities end. In the Steubenville case, a 16 year old girl got drunk of her own volition, and was then sexually abused by two of her peers. This was an act of crass stupidity and thoughtlessness which will no doubt haunt them for the rest of their days, but it was just as clearly rape in the same way that relieving a drunken man of his wallet is theft.
In the Tyson-Washington case, Desiree Washington was gullible, but gullibility is not a crime. Washington was sober, and the fact that she suffered internal injuries turned a she said/he said scenario into a clear case of rape. Desiree Washington was also very much the type of girl Tyson or any sportsman would have taken home to meet mother.
Leaving aside the physical evidence, Tyson was convicted because of his arrogance on the stand, likewise so was Evans who said: “we could have had any girl in that nightclub.
It’s not uncommon for us to pick up girls. We’re footballers, we’re rich and we’ve got money, that’s what girls like.”
That boast would probably have alienated both men and women jurors, albeit for entirely different reasons.
Whether or not Evans eventually has his conviction overturned, I stand by my comments in the article. Both he and Macdonald should never have put themselves in that position. Should Evans be kicked out of the misnamed beautiful game permanently? Of course not, but if I were running Sheffield United, I wouldn’t want him playing for the club. And if I were Natasha Massey, I certainly wouldn’t want him in my bed.
The final word should go to the TV and radio presenter Michael Buerk, who said: “Nobody comes out of the Ched Evans rape case with any credit – not the victim who’d drunk so much she could barely stand, nor the two footballers who had sex with her in the most sordid of circumstances.”
Predictably he caught some flak for that, but he was spot on.
[The above article was published originally April 21, 2012 with this photograph; the second part, Aftermath, was published October 25, 2014.]
On April 21, 2016, the Court of Appeal quashed his rape conviction, and Evans was cleared at a retrial in October the same year. I have no problems with the final verdict, but I will not be adding his name to the False Rape Timeline.
November 16, 2016
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