Rape case raises questions about judiciary

// 28 January 2007

A case in which a Scottish judge put a footballer’s career ahead of the needs of a teenage girl that police suspect was raped, has raised concerns about the Criminal Justice System.

Reports the Scotsman, the case involves 16 year old Callam McKinlay, a promising footballer, who filmed his friend Andrew Whitaker having sex with a girl of 14, who was so drunk that she couldn’t remember if she consented or not.

The video was circulated at their school, and eventually the girl told her mother, who reported the incident to the police. After watching the footage, the police decided that it was a serious enough case to charge Whitaker with rape and McKinlay with indecent assault.

• The boy who had sex with the 14-year-old girl, Andrew Whitaker, was originally charged with rape by police but the case was dropped by the Crown Office;

• Lesser charges of having sex with a minor were also rejected by the Crown Office because there was so little age difference between the then 16-year-old Whitaker and the girl;

• McKinlay was originally charged by police with indecent assault against the girl, which involved abusing her with a figurine of a footballer, but proceedings were also dropped by the Crown Office;

• The charges laid by the police were dropped, despite the fact that the girl has special needs, was vulnerable to being abused, and it was all captured on McKinlay’s mobile.

When the case finally got to court, the sheriff decided not to punish McKinlay because it would damage his football career. The court never heard most of the details of what happened: only that the boy had filmed Whitaker having sex with the girl.

An insider from Tayside Police told the newspaper:

“The officers involved had not had a complaint of rape, but when they viewed the tape they thought they were witnessing a very serious sexual assault, involving both boys.

“It was decided to treat it as a rape inquiry, and with the evidence on tape there was some confidence that the girl and her family would get justice.

“They have been let down, in much the same way that police officers working on these sorts of cases are often let down by the system.

“The Crown has not moved on as we have in recent years when dealing with sexual crime, and the interests of victims never seem to be the main concern for prosecutors.”

The police get a lot of flak for how they deal with rape and sexual assault. But in this case, it seems like they were the only link in the chain taking the proper action. The problem is that every single part of the Criminal Justice System needs to be reformed and re-educated when it comes to rape.

We all know that there the CJS is consistently failing to put rapists and sexual offenders behind bars. Much of the problem is very difficult to solve. But here’s an example of something that can be changed: retrain the bunch of them.

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