Dublin Rape Crisis Centre has said it welcomes the decision by the Professional Footballers Association of Ireland to remove a blog post which linked the Ched Evans rape case to the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six.
The blog post was written by solicitor for the PFAI, Stuart Gilhooly, but was removed yesterday following criticism on social media from the DRCC, the National Women’s Council and others.
Evans, 25, a former Wales international, was found guilty in 2012 of the rape of a woman in May 2011 in Rhyl, north Wales. He was released from prison last month and, following a request from the English Professional Players Association (PFA), has been training with his former club, Sheffield United.
The club came under fire from fans as a result, with a petition securing tens of thousands of signatures demanding he not be allowed to play.
Club patron Charlie Webster, a Sky Sports presenter, said she had resigned as a result of Evans being allowed to train, while other patrons said they would break their associations with Sheffield United if he resumed his playing career.
Evans had denied the charge and had maintained sex had been consensual.
In the blog post, Mr Gilhooly wrote: “This crime, as alleged, was at the bottom end. There was no violence and thankfully the victim has no recollection of it.
“This, I hasten to add, does not make it right, or anything close to it, but it is nonetheless a mitigating factor.
“Suffice to say that Ched Evans has a very arguable case that he is the victim of a miscarriage of justice. If having sex with a drunk woman is rape then thousands of men are guilty of rape every day.”
He also wrote of the case: “But there is surely nothing worse than being accused of a crime which you genuinely believe you didn’t commit.
“The argument against that is that a jury convicted him of the crime. The same applied to the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six. They got no public sympathy either.
“Maybe he is guilty or perhaps he’s innocent, none of us knows for sure. Surely, either way, he deserves a chance at redemption. Don’t we all?”
Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Drivetime, Mr Gilhooly said: “I think he’s a footballer that is entitled to return to his career. My simple point is his right to return.”
But Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop of the DRCC said: “This person was found guilty and he was convicted,” she said. “Rape is the absence of consent.
“It is terribly important for the public to know that when someone is intoxicated so that they are virtually comatose, they are not in a position to give consent.”
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