Newt In A Tea Cup











{July 8, 2007}   Cost of Justice

A while back I blogged about two year old Casey Leigh Mullen who was raped and murdered by her uncle 21-year old Michael Mullen. A few days ago I got a bunch of hits looking specifically for the little girl. It turns out her uncle has just been convicted to at least 35 years in jail. Nothing seems quite enough when considering what he did but this is technically a life sentence; it seems to be all we can hope for in this world at least and it means that he’s away from the public for a long, long time. And isn’t it weird to think that a rapist was convicted? Seems rather out of the ordinary until you consider he also murdered.

But there is more. It seems that this isn’t the first time he’s done something like this.

A man jailed for life for the rape and murder of his two-year-old niece was charged with raping a 12-year-old girl four years ago, it has emerged.

reads the strapline of the BBC News article

This raises several questions. The articles continues saying that the attack occured on the school playing field- no question about age there. No, the defence that got Michael Mullen off in 2003 was that the twelve year old girl had consented. Now, if the court system actually took rape cases seriously this would have been laughed out of court. The age of consent exists for a reason. Under 16 means unable to give consent and twelve is definitely under – unless my math teacher was a pathological liar which wouldn’t surprise me. I always mistrusted those people…

Anyway his defence was illegal.

The fact the courts are willing to capitulate to an illegal defence is worrying to say the least.

Yes, the age of consent is not without problems but twelve is clearly not able to fully understand and consent. This is a law for their own protection. We can argue about a fifteen and sixteen year old who are in a relationship but seventeen (which was Mullens age at the time) and twelve is not acceptable no matter the particulars. That is why the law is there in the first place.

Furthermore

“The CPS keeps cases under constant review, and immediately before the trial, new evidence came to light which seriously undermined the prosecution case against the defendant.

“The new evidence highlighted inconsistencies in the complainant’s evidence such as to remove a realistic prospect of obtaining a conviction for the original offence.

“The CPS consulted with the police and prosecuting counsel and discussed the new evidence with the complainant, following which the decision was taken to offer no evidence, a decision fully endorsed by the trial judge.”

This is all pretty vague and convoluted but, from my understanding from what I heard on the news, it appears there were inconsistencies in the girls account and they decided to drop the case. My honest response is “duh!”

Putting a twelve year old at the centre of a police investigation is hella scary for them. Place them on the stand and make them go to a court of law- that’s the stuff of nightmares! Especially if you are standing against someone who is older and has proven himself vicious and evil to you. Now, add the fact that this is a twelve year old who has just gone through the trauma of rape, and is being asked to describe and relive it- in excruciating detail – to a room full of adults intent on proving her a whore and who arguing that the event which ruined her life was her own fault. I wouldn’t want to go through that! This is ultimately traumatic for the most mature adults- but a twelve year old?

No pressure there then.

That and unless sex ed has changed dramatically since I went through the system she probably doesn’t even have the lexis to describe everything. And if she does? Case dismissed; the girl is a hussy.

Furthermore reactions to rape itself are complex- the court desperately needs to implement specialists who explain this. Inconsistencies in recalling rape is expected when you consider it. We understand that if someone is in a car crash certain sequences of events or details may be sketchy; even if they are unharmed.

But this still leaves us with the question of what course of action to take with young girls who are raped.

Taking them in front of a court, especially the way things are now, is not likely to get a result and will only further traumatise them. Maybe the right call was made for this girl when the case was dropped. You can’t expect her to push against an entire culture and system when she has more than anyone should ever have on her shoulders. It could possibly be the nail in her coffin and I understand that this is considered in the lead up to going on with the case or not.

Except that this leaves men like Michael Mullens to do it again and again until they finally do something so damaging and inexcusable (even to a twisted corrupt system) that there is a corpse left as hard evidence to condemn them; pain that can be dissected, scream frozen on blue lips- only that counts.

But how many more? This is not an acceptable cost that we, as a society, can bear. This is a cancerous tumour that wraps itself into the very heart of our communities. We can’t keep paying with our children, with all of our girls and women. It’s hard to enjoy justice when you know it comes in through the back-door of a wake, wearing black and the best it does is lay flowers at the grave. I’m glad it’s there… I just wish we weren’t there in the first place.

And then my visceral response is at what point does the innocent, blameless abused two year old transform into the scheming, untrustworthy whore? So far it seems to be at ten. Why is it so hard for us to believe when a girl says something is wrong? Why are we rebuffed so much? Why is the onus on us above and beyond those who destroy us? Why does it take a death before we are taken seriously?

I just don’t know…

Interestingly

Mullen, who pleaded guilty yesterday at Leeds Crown Court, had a picture on his mobile phone of Casey, naked from the waist down. He had also stored sadistic images of other children on his computer.

The judge said: “Police investigations have shown that you had used your computer to download indecent images of children and images of sexual abuse of children. It’s clear that these offences were aggravated by strong paedophilic urges.”

No, I am not blaming this on the porn. It seems he had these vile “urges” before he sought out the porn and consequently was attracted to it. However it certainly didn’t help.

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So true Newt precisely my question when I heard Michael Mullin had been convicted of raping and murdering a two year old girl. What if she had been four years old – would Mullin’s defence have been ‘well she consented.’ I’ve no doubt he would have claimed the little girl consented. The age of consent is steadily being eroded despite legislation clearly stating anyone under the age of 13 is unable to consent. However, hidden within the legal system is The Sentencing Guidelines which in respect of men convicted of raping a child are still perceived as not too damaging or abusive in certain instances. For example, male adult abusers who persuade a child it was the child’s sexuality which caused the adult male to commit rape is still perceived as a mitigating factor. So, despite the Sexual Offences Act, 2003 male rapists are still able to claim that a child under the age of 13 ‘consented to being raped.’



Grace says:

Great post Newt. I’m glad you mentionned the ten year old too. I am truly getting sick of this constant miscarriage of justice, and now wish I’d found feminism earlier and gone into Law, for the sole purpose of being a prosecution solicitor, and eventually, member of the judiciary, who puts bastards like that behind bars.

If Mullen has been given a ‘life sentence’ (which he would be because Mandatory Life is the only sentence a court can give for murder), he will be on a ‘life licence’ for the rest of his life. This won’t neccessarily mean that he will be supervised for his whole life, although it doesn’t mean that he won’t either! Not sure if that reassures you, but I thought i’d try!

You know, as I mentioned in my most recent post i’m reading Handmaids Tale and that whole section with the 14 year old who is made to declare over and over again that he experience of rape was her own fault, just seems more and more real – one day this isn’t going to be a metaphor for those girls’ experiences.

What’s really horrible to think about is if Mullen had been appropriately sentenced for the earlier crime he would have been incapacitated and he wouldn’t have been able to commit this horrific crime.

Why are these men so desperate to have sex with someone that all that ask for is a ‘yes’ and a verbal lie about age (for if it is said out loud it must be true) before taking advantage of someone who clearly doesn’t know the extent of what is going to happen?? And why can this desperation/”biological imperative” be so unassailable that consent from a 12 year old makes it all okay??

Sorry, long comment, had lots to say!



tcupnewt says:

Jennifer Drew- That’s really frightening. There’s a mentality that being female is enough to put you up as “sending the wrong signals” and therefore existing in a permanent state of consent. And even then adults should always take full responsibility when it comes to this. The law needs such an overhaul. It’s odd but when you spell out the consequences of this people would be horrified, I think, but when it comes to the crunch and individual cases it’s much easier to slut-blame- even if it is a child.

Grace- Yeah, that infuriated me so much. I’m not incredibly familiar with the legal system but, yeah, it’s becoming more clear we kind of need to know the ins and outs of it. One by one girls everywhere are being screwed over again and again… 😦 When I consider how many get away with it I’m grateful Mullen has that in place- like I said, it isn’t perfect but it’s the best we can hope for.

Handmaid’s Tale is terrifying in the same chilling way as Orwells 1984. It seems so surreal and yet, when you pause, it’s actually very familiar and somewhat do-able in the sense that society is slowly but innevitably slipping down that frightening road.

I really don’t know what to say. Sometimes I feel like there aren’t any answers left- at least nothing that can make it better. Screw it all.



Grace says:

Ooh just realised I made a mistake in my earlier comment – the character saying it was all her fault was an adult when being made to say this but 14 years old when she was raped.

Even working within the justice system I know so little really, although it is reassuring to know the truth when tabloids doing their usual bit of fear mongering. There IS reason for fear, don’t get me wrong, but not in the way they propose. Let’s face it no one gives enough public air time/inches/pixels to the fear that so many women are in when a rapist is acquitted. The media are right to say “what the f**k?” about paedophiles getting off lightly, but why is that not the same when the victims are adults (or ‘near’ adults, like you know, 12 year olds)? Suddenly the weaker sex gains equality! When it suits them!



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