A good blog post by Green co-leader Russel Norman on the rape trials. He deals with two issues:
1) Should the jury have been told of the previous rape conviction for Schollum and Shipton?
He thinks there was enough similarity that they should have been told, but it was the Court of Appeal who decided otherwise.
I note that at least some of the jurors have admitted they did know of the previous convictions. And they were also aware of the Nicholas case and the similarity between the cases. I am unsure a law change would have changed the verdicts.
2) Should Rickards be allowed back?
Norman says that Rickards involvement in consenting group sex not a reason to stop him, neither is using sex aids, nor is cheating on his partner, and even sex on the bonnet of a police car 20 years ago shouldn’t stop him either.
But Rickards comments in defence of Schollum and Shipton are cited by Norman as good reason for him to no longer be in a senior position in the police, as these men are convicted rapists.
I think that is a pretty fair view of things. One thing I will comment on is the whole issue of whether the sex with Louise Nicholas was consensual, as people seem to be debating two different standards.
There is no question that the sex was found legally to be consensual, with the not guilty verdict. But the issue is not one of strict legality, but of behaviour as a police officer. Sex with an 18 year old is not illegal. But if (for example) you are her teacher, it is unethical.
Three police officers in their 20s and 30s having group sex with an 18 year old girl is unethical and abusive, even if consensual. As I said back when the Nicholas verdict came out:
I don’t tend to judge anyone’s consensual sexual behaviour, but three police officers all having casual and group sex with a teenager is not a relationship of equals. Don’t get me wrong I am not saying one can not have a strong loving relationship with someone significantly younger than yourself. Of course you can (as many people, including me, have). Neither am I saying casual or group sex by itself is exploitative. What I am saying is that in this case it was exploitative with the combination of factors involved.
Rickards has said he is ashamed of cheating on his partner back then. It would be nice to also hear him say that in hindsight he regards it as highly inappropriate for him and his colleagues to have group sex with an 18 year old, even if they thought she was consenting.