Rape Crisis Scotland says the landmark civil court ruling could open door for more civil rape trials
Rape Crisis Scotland has welcomed a court’s decision to brand two footballers rapists despite them never facing a criminal trial.
Former Scotland international David Goodwillie and his ex-teammate David Robertson have been ruled to be rapists and ordered to pay £100,000 in damages to the woman they attacked in the the first civil rape case of its kind in Scotland.
Denise Claire, 30, took the action after being left devastated by the crown’s decision not to prosecute the two after she claimed they raped her at a flat in Armadale, in West Lothian, after a night out in Bathgate in January 2011.
Claire originally sought £500,000 in compensation, but damages were later agreed at £100,000 in the civil action at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.
She maintained she was incapable of giving free agreement to sex because of her alcohol consumption, but Goodwillie, 27, who now plays with Plymouth Argyle, and Robertson claimed that intercourse had been consensual.
However Lord Armstrong passed judgement in Claire’s favour.
Rape Crisis Scotland hailed the landmark ruling.
Coordinator Sandy Brindley said: “The majority of rapes reported to the police never make it to court, and rape complainers are left feeling devastated and let down by the criminal justice process.
"The woman in this case should be commended for her bravery and courage in pursuing this case in the face of significant challenges. She was left feeling very let down by the Crown Office, who dropped criminal proceedings against her rapists. Often, women in these circumstances tell us that they just want someone to believe them, and to acknowledge that what happened to them was rape.”
The woman in this case should be commended for her bravery and courage - Sandy Brindley
Brindley said the case could now lead to more rape complainers who feel let down by the criminal justice system turning to civil system in their search for justice.
“Steps must be taken to ensure that key protections, such as anonymity and protection from cross examination by the accused, are in place within the civil justice system for these cases,” she said.
Brindley added: “We appreciate that the burden of proof is different in civil justice compared to criminal justice, but we do think there are questions for the Crown to answer about why they dropped this case, and their willingness to prosecute in cases where someone is so drunk they do not have the capacity to consent. The law is clear – if someone is so drunk they can’t consent, it is rape, but these cases can be very difficult to obtain a prosecution in.”
The charity also welcomed Lord Armstrong’s comments dismissing the significance of flirting to the question of whether the woman was raped, with his statement that “the mere fact of sexual attraction does not preclude rape”.