IN VINO VERITAS

Rape is a heinous act and should never be treated lightly. However, it has become a common accusation by female students at University when they are usually in a state of having had too much to drink and then engaging in having sex with a fellow student. A leading female barrister has now sensibly warned male students not to risk having sex with girls who have been drinking heavily for fear they could end up being accused of rape.

Cathy McCuloch, a lawyer who specialises in sexual offence cases said young men must be educated to understand the danger of indulging in the casual drinking and sex culture prevalent in British universities. She said: ‘Even if they have not given the woman the alcohol – if they have watched them take their own alcohol, if that woman appears to be drunk they must not go there.’

Her comments came after one of her clients was informed that a rape case against him was being dropped. Alaister Cooke, 23, who was in the third year of a geophysics degree at Durham University, had been accused of raping a fellow student. He was the third student at Durham in a year to be prosecuted for rape, but none of the cases resulted in a conviction.

Last January, Louis Richardson, 22, of Jersey, the Secretary of the Durham Union Debating Society, faced similar allegations from two students but was cleared following a trial. And in July, George Worral, 22, of Cromer, Norfolk, called for anonymity for men accused of rape after he was cleared of another charge of rape involving a female student at Durham.

Mr Cooke had been accused of raping a student following a party at which she had got drunk on rum punch. He insisted that the sex had been consensual but the prosecution claimed the woman had been too drunk to consent to sex and Mr Cooke was charged with rape. In December, a jury failed to reach a verdict and he had been expected to face a retrial. But the CPS said it would not proceed with the retrial. Prosecutor Paul Classy said the complainant agreed with the Crown’s decision. He said: ‘The Crown have had the opportunity to consider whether to try the remaining counts and this has been done. We therefore offer no further evidence on these outstanding counts. The complainant has been consulted. She does agree with the decision made by the Crown after full consultation.’

After the decision, Ms McCulloch said more needed to be done to educate young men about consent. She said: ‘What happened to Alaister Cooke is every young man’s nightmare and we need a campaign to educate them. Young men need to learn that if a young woman presents as drunk but gives all the signs as they see it, of consenting, she can still say later that she was not fit to consent.’

This I believe to be good advice, for drunks are not necessarily in full control of their actions and are therefore likely to retract any so called consent, especially when sexual congress has taken place.

In any event, I personally think that sexual activity when inebriated loses its magic and is certainly neither worth the risk nor the climax it produces. What I call ‘second-rate orgasm’, not gratifying rapture.

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