Month: April 2014

Hulin Case to be Reviewed by the AG

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Letters to the Attorney General – April 27th

27 April 2014

Dear Mr Grieve,

I am writing to ask you to consider referring the case of Adam Hulin to the Court of Appeal on the grounds that his sentence was unduly lenient.

In March of this year, Hulin stood trial at Guildford Crown Court, charged with three counts of sexual assault against a 12-year-old girl. These charges were vaginal rape, oral rape, and assault by penetration.

According to reports, following a closed Newton hearing, the charge of vaginal rape was dismissed. It appears that the judge, Recorder George Lawson-Rogers, was unable to satisfy himself that “what happened was not by mutual consent,” and that the Newton hearing pertained to some evidence of the complainant’s testimony, which was ruled inadmissible.

Hulin pleaded guilty to the two other counts of oral rape and assault by penetration of a child under thirteen. On April 23rd, he was sentenced to 100 hours of community service, six hours of counseling and was ordered to pay a victim surcharge of 60 pounds.

It would seem from comments made by both the judge and the defence that the light sentence resulted from their belief that the assault was a crime only on the basis of the age of the complainant.

It is reported here that the judge noted that “Once upon a time it wouldn’t have been rape at all.”

The same newspaper article also reports that Richard McConaghy, speaking for the defence, argued that Mr Hulin had simply engaged in “what most people would ordinarily define as regular sexual activity” and that “[i]t is simply to do with the fact that she was a couple of months shy of her 13th birthday that Mr Hulin finds himself subject to the law at all.”

The implications of these comments is that Adam Hulin was simply unlucky to find himself on the wrong side of the law, and did not actually committed a sexual assault for which he should pay a significant penalty. According to the judge, Adam’s Hulin’s action are a crime only because of a legal technicality concerning the definition of a child.

This account of the circumstances of the assault stands in direct contradiction to the defence case, which suggests that Adam Hulin both knew the age of the complainant, and that he plied her with alcohol prior to the assault. As the judge heard evidence pertaining to this aspect of the case in closed session, it is unclear why he considered that it was impossible to determine that she had consented to the activity. It raises questions as to whether he considered drunkenness on the part of a girl to constitute consent; despite years of efforts to raise awareness that this is not the case.

This appears to be crucial issue – not only insofar as it related to the dismissal of the rape charge – but also because it has clearly impacted the judge’s decision that this case did not merit a custodial sentence.

The defendant is reputedly a gifted athlete, and is taking his A-levels. In passing down his sentence, the judge reportedly noted that, “This defendant is 19 and there is much to be said in his favour. He has clear prospects for the future and he is pursuing these at this time…I consider this the appropriate disposal. I certainly wouldn’t want to do anything which would prejudice his future career.”

The message that this sends is that the judicial system of this country considers the future of this young man to be of far greater value than the future of the young women he admits to assaulting. As is well known, sexual trauma frequently has a devastating effect on both the physical and mental health of women and girls. This trauma will, in this case, undoubtedly be compounded by the age of the girl concerned, and by the difficulties of going through a trial.

Moreover, a very significant aspect of the trauma women and girls experience in these cases results from receiving cultural messages that they are responsible for what happened to them, that they brought it on themselves, and that their social and civic systems will not believe them or support them in their recovery or fight for restitution.

Sexual assault is an attack on the very centre of personhood. It leaves many women and girls feeling completely disempowered – and this can remain with them for the entirety of their lives. No doubt, this overwhelming sense of powerless will be greatly exacerbated by a result such as in this case.

When a judge exhibits so much concern for the future of a young man, and so little for the future of his victim, it raises serious questions about the extent to which women and girls are seen to be full persons in the eyes of the law.

I would ask you to review the details of this case, and consider referring it to the Court of Appeal.

Thank you for your time in giving this your attention.

Sincerely,

Jane Clare Jones

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27 April 2014

Dear Dominic,

I was molested as a child. When I started to go public about it, as an adult, people were very worried about the molester’s career. “What about his career?” they said (he works with children), “You will ruin his career,” and, “You know this could hurt his career? You should be careful what you say.”

Unfortunately there was not enough evidence, and I was advised not to bring a case against him. His workplace were informed, and they interviewed me. They obviously concluded that I was lying because they decided not to do anything. He is back at work. There’s nothing that can be done unless someone else brings new evidence against him. The only other person I know of who can do that is unwell and it would not be advisable for her to go through the stress of this awful process.

There is something that can be done about Adam Hulin though, seeing as he pleaded guilty to oral rape and assault. Don’t be fooled by what he says about it being consensual. There is no consent when you’re 12 and your attacker is 19. I also wasn’t held down, I didn’t scream, I didn’t shout. Do you know why? I was completely terrified. I wouldn’t have been able to get any sound out if it had occurred to me to scream (which it hadn’t. When you’re a child you tend to accept what adults around you do. And yes, 19 is an adult, not a child).

I am disgusted that this man has been let off with a community order, and I’m even more worried that I hear he will be involved in running some kind of sports club. What is to stop him ‘accidentally’ raping another child he thinks is legally an adult?

It is obvious that Hulin is not even sorry. That scares me. Does it scare you? I am amazed that anyone is interested in this man’s A Levels right now. Does it matter that he had a promising future head of him? What about the future of his victim and the future of future victims? I assure you that her life will not be the same now.

Please let me know what you intend to do about this matter.

Yours sincerely,

Anonymous

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27 April 2014

Dear Mr Grieve,

I am writing to ask you to consider referring the case of Adam Hulin to the Court of Appeal on the grounds that his sentence was unduly lenient.

You will know that, in March of this year, Hulin stood trial at Guilford Crown Court, charged with three counts of sexual assault against a 12-year-old girl. These charges were vaginal rape, oral rape, and assault by penetration.

Inexplicably to me, despite Hulin’s admission of penetrative sex, the charge of vaginal rape was dismissed under some ambiguity relating to consent. As the girl was underage, and Hulin was an adult, this penetrative sex constitutes statutory rape, regardless of consent. This anomaly under the law was discussed and decided during a closed Newton hearing,

Following his guilty plea to the remaining two counts, Hulin was sentenced to 100 hours of community service, six hours of counselling and was ordered to pay a victim surcharge of 60 pounds.

The comments made by Recorder George Lawson-Rogers during sentencing, and the leniency of the sentencing itself, have left me appalled. I’ve summarised them here below, for ease of reference:

“Once upon a time it wouldn’t have been rape at all.

“I can’t dismiss the contention that what happened was not by mutual consent, so that is the basis on which the defendant is to be sentenced.

“Rape is a very serious offence but it can cover a great number of different circumstances. When it comes to someone of (the complainant’s) age the law is there not simply to prevent somebody of the defendant’s age from abusing them, but also to protect children from themselves.

“This defendant is 19 and there is much to be said in his favour. He has clear prospects for the future and he is pursuing these at this time.

“I consider this the appropriate disposal. I certainly wouldn’t want to do anything which would prejudice his future career.”

I object in the strongest terms possible to the leniency of the sentence and the implication of Mr Lawson-Rogers’ comments for the following reasons:

  • Whatever the law was, ‘once upon a time’ is immaterial to what the law is now, although it’s clear that this was a strong influencing factor in Mr Lawson-Rogers’ decision making.
  • Unless I have missed something extremely fundamental in how the law views sexual intercourse between an adult and a minor, her consent is also immaterial. In having sexual intercourse with a girl of 12 years old, Hulin, an adult, was committing statutory rape.
  • One would think, in any civilised society, that the ‘prospects for the future’ of a victim should automatically be afforded more consideration than that of the sexual abuser. But that is not the case here, in fact the inverse appears to have happened. Mr Lawson-Rogers has considered the future of the attacker alone, and whilst he may reassure himself that it is normal to look at the character of an offender, that is patently not what is happening here. His comments reveal that these normal considerations have been reversed because of his class, not his character, which is that of a gifted, young, white, male athlete. It is impossible to imagine, given his comments, that is for any reason other than he considers young men to be of more value to society than young women, to a degree that consideration for their future is able not just to trump that of a girl with all things being equal, but to trump that of a girl, his victim, whom he has violently abused.

We know that all too often, victims of sexual violence blame themselves. In a society which openly prioritises the male class (witness a 19% pay gap despite legislation, the disproportionate impact of a poor economy on women, the inescapably enormous disparity in the number of female victims of violence to men), it is predictable, inevitable (and robustly backed up in many studies) that women will see themselves as having some blame to take for their assault. To compound that inevitability with these prejudiced comments will indeed multiply the effects of the assault on the victim and almost certainly solidify her feelings of guilt and loathing into permanent psychological damage.

I am horrified by what is a clear display of partiality towards the perpetrator with no thought at all for the victim, a clear failing of Mr Lawson-Rogers’ duty.

I would ask you to review the details of this case, and consider referring it to the Court of Appeal.

Thank you for your time in giving this your attention.

Sincerely,

Juliet Sian Oosthuysen

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Dear Mr Grieve

I am writing to ask you to consider referring the case of Adam Hulin on the grounds that his sentence was unduly lenient.

In March of this year, Hulin stood trial at Guildford Crown Court, charged with three counts of sexual assault against a 12-year-old girl. These charges were vaginal rape, oral rape, and assault by penetration.

Following a closed Newton hearing, the charge of vaginal rape was dismissed as the judge, Recorder George Lawson-Rogers, was unable to satisfy himself that “what happened was not by mutual consent,” and that the Newton hearing pertained to some evidence of the complainant’s testimony, which was ruled inadmissible.

Hulin pleaded guilty to the two other counts of oral rape and assault by penetration of a child under 13. On April 23rd, he was sentenced to 100 hours of community service, six hours of counseling and was ordered to pay a victim surcharge of 60 pounds.

It would seem from comments made by both the judge and the defence that the light sentence resulted from their belief that the assault was a crime only on the basis of the age of the complainant.

It is reported here that the judge noted that “Once upon a time it wouldn’t have been rape at all.”

The article also reports that Richard McConaghy, speaking for the defence, argued that Mr Hulin had engaged in “what most people would ordinarily define as regular sexual activity” and that “[i]t is simply to do with the fact that she was a couple of months shy of her 13th birthday that Mr Hulin finds himself subject to the law at all.”

According to the judge, Adam’s Hulin’s actions are a crime only because of a legal technicality concerning the definition of a child. This is in spite of the fact that the reason this technicality exists in the first place is because the law believes a child under the age of 13 cannot meaningfully consent to sex.

This account of the circumstances of the assault stands in direct contradiction to the defence case which suggests that Adam Hulin both knew the age of the complainant, and that he plied her with vodka prior to the assault. As the judge heard evidence pertaining to this aspect of the case in closed session, it is unclear why he considered that it was impossible to determine that she had not consented to the activity. It raises questions as to whether he considered drunkenness on the part of a girl to constitute consent; despite years of efforts to raise awareness that this is not the case.

This appears to be crucial issue – not only as it relates to the dismissal of the rape charge – but also because it has clearly impacted the judge’s decision that this case did not merit a custodial sentence. This is in spite of the fact that sentencing recommendations suggest a custodial sentence of at least four years for this level of crime.

In his comments on the case, the judge expressed concern that a custodial sentence would impact on Hulin’s future. He commented that he had ‘much to be said in his favour’ and he would not want to do something to ‘prejudice his future career.’

It is clearly troubling that the judge appears to be more concerned with the impact a rape conviction would have on Hulin’s future, than the impact of the assault on Hulin’s 12 year old victim.

By this I mean that through his comments, the judge has shown a deep lack of empathy for the realities faced by victims of sexual assault. This includes the severe, lasting trauma that survivors of sexual assault often experience. In this specific case, the trauma could be compounded due to the victim’s very young age.

We know that the trauma associated with sexual assault and rape is often exacerbated by the victim being led to believe that she is somehow to blame for the violence committed against her. This belief – which is sadly re-enforced by cultural messages every day – can lead to women and girls feeling reluctant to report rape and sexual assault. It can lead to women and girls feeling that they won’t be believed if they do report.

The judge’s comments that this would not have been rape in another time, as well as his argument that the rape conviction puts Hulin’s future at risk, supports the damaging victim blaming narrative that can compound the trauma of survivors of sexual assault. Again, it is therefore deeply troubling that he thought such comments were appropriate.

As well as the impact on the victim herself, I am deeply concerned about the message the judge’s comments send out to women and girls everywhere. I believe his comments re-enforce a culture where women and girls feel that if they report rape or sexual assault, they will be blamed and disbelieved.

The case raises some very important and troubling questions about our legal system’s view on women and girls, and their rights under the law. We have to ask why a representative of our justice system is more concerned about protecting the reputation of a rapist than the safety of women and girls. Why is more value placed on the perpetrator’s prospects than on the victim of his assault? Why did the judge believe, with everything we know about the long-lasting traumatic impact of sexual assault on women and girls, that it was more important to protect Hulin’s future career than the future of Hulin’s victim?

Reporting rape and sexual assault is an incredibly difficult thing to do. With cases like this, is it any wonder that only 15% of rapes are reported in the UK?

Ultimately, the judge in this case has managed to portray a man convicted of raping a child as the “real victim”. As a result, the impact of the assault on the actual victim is ignored. The impact of the assault on her future is deemed unimportant. And the message is sent out once again to women and girls that if they report the violence committed against them, they risk being disbelieved and blamed, whilst their abusers receive sympathy.

Thank you for your time in giving this your attention.

Sincerely,

Anonymous