Should Rapist Footballer Ched Evans Get Another Chance?

October 22, 2014

It really is the biggest debate in sport today. The question as to whether convicted rapist and talented footballer Ched Evans should be allowed to continue his career after being released from prison this month after a two year stretch has made it’s way off the back pages on to the front page of newspapers. It is even being discussed on almost every daytime TV programme you can think of.

For those who have been on planet Mars for the last few months, let me explain the story.

Ched Evans is a 25 year old Welsh footballer who plays for Sheffield United, after previously playing for Manchester City. He seemed to have a wonderful career ahead of him, after banging in 35 goals in a season for Sheffield United.

One Night in Rhyl

This was until an unfortunate night in Rhyl in May 2011. Fellow footballer Clayton McDonald took a girl who had had far too much to drink back to a hotel for sex. At some point during the night Ched Evans turned up and engaged in intercourse with the girl as well.

Shortly after, the girl accused both men of rape. To cut a long story short, McDonald was found not guilty as he had originally gone back with the girl to the hotel. By the time Evans got there, the jury considered the girl far too drunk to actually give consent. Evans was sent down for five years, and told he could be released after serving half the sentence.

Now he is set to be released and there is a bit of a war going on as to whether he should be allowed to re-join his team Sheffield United.

Before we move on to a deeper debate as to what rape is, it is safe to say, if Ched Evans was an electrician then there would be no problem him picking up his toolbox and getting back to work. No matter what happens, Ched Evans is getting treated differently than other criminals because he is a footballer. Many people down want to see 30,00 people cheering for a guy who has done time for a sexual offence. Is this treatment right? That really is just a matter of opinion and you will all have your own.

Woman looking sad at the camera

Now let’s get to the nitty-gritty of the case. This was not a scenario where Ched Evans jumped out of the bushes with a knife and a balaclava. He went to the hotel drunk and thought he was having drunk sex.

‘None Violent Rape’

No I can already hear peoples hearts racing at me saying that. Daytime TV legend Judy Finnegan got proverbially lynched last week after stating on ‘Loose Women’ that the rape ‘wasn’t violent’ and that Ched Evans had done his time and ‘deserved a second chance’.

Well, she has been pilloried by elements of social media and has even been threatened with rape (oh, the irony) Still, I think she has a point.

Before people say there aren’t ‘different kind of rapes’, take a look at the sentencing guidelines; there most certainly are.

Now that doesn’t mean that Ched Evans isn’t a rapist. If the facts of the case are as has been portrayed , Evans was guilty and needed to do time.

Rape isn’t just deliberately going against someone’s wishes and having sex with them anyway. It is also engaging in sexual activity not knowing, or caring if they are giving consent.

Now I have no doubt that Evans thought he was having drunk sex . Let’s face it, he probably still does. He has a huge campaign backing him, and as of two years ago, there was a big banner on the side of a house as you entered Rhyl saying ‘Free Ched Evans’.

No matter what the rights and wrongs of the situation, Ched Evans isn’t a danger to the general public. He is, at worst a complete idiot who needed to think about what he was doing. He is likely to never commit another crime in his life, so why should he be banned from his vocation?

Blonde woman biting nails looking stressed

What Message?

Now let’s talk about the message it sends allowing Ched Evans to return to the game. Some will say that it shows that a man who is convicted of rape is still able to come back and live the high life. Is that what we want our kids to think?

Now I like to look at it a different way. This whole situation, to me, is the most likely rape situation our kids are going to get involved in. Not many are going to do their John Duffy impression and stalk the local train stations, but nearly all will be attending house parties at one point or another. It is here they need to learn the rules.

Ched Evans should be used as the poster boy of gaining official consent before having sex with someone. We can say to our kids ‘look, if she doesn’t officially say yes, then don’t do anything, look what happened to him’.

In my opinion, Ched Evans has done his time and deserves a chance to rebuild his life. Instead of public vilification, this should be a salutary tale of what happens when people get drunk and realities get blurred. Maybe this will just teach us all that ignorance is no defence.

If it doesn’t then more lives are going to be ruined.

So what do you think. Should Ched Evans be banned from football?

Martin Ward
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