I’ve been reading the various articles about the judge’s deliberations in Adelaide over the case of Matthew James Sloan and the idea of “technical rape” with growing unease and a I-can’t-quite-place-my-finger-on-it sense of wrongness. But it took a tweet from Crikey writer Bernard Keane linking the judge’s comments with the now infamous “rougher than usual handling” discussion of a number of years back to really crystallise my outrage. Rape is rape is rape. There is no “technical” or kind of rape. Was consent present – no – therefore, rape. The idea that the judge can decide that nothing happened that “she wouldn’t have consented to had she been conscious” is once again an indication that a man’s “reputation” is more important than a sexual assault perpetrated against a woman. How can the judge know that? Given that the woman concerned was so heavily intoxicated that she passed out before sex could commence, how real was the initial consent anyway? Like the whole rugby league saga from the media earlier this year, when large amounts of alcohol are involved, and situations change, consent can no longer be presumed. And would she ever have consented to having her body used while unconscious? Clearly, this woman considered she had not consented, or she would not have gone to the police. And clearly the man, Mr Sloan, accepted this when he pled guilty (as I understand he did). For a judge to then dismissively minimise the extent of the crime because he is concerned about the impact on the man involved life, belittles and diminishes the woman.
If you absolutely have to cut him some kind of lighter sentence, argue it was because his judgement was diminished because of alcohol – don’t minimise the crime itself. Besides, perhaps the ironic fact is that his name has been splashed around the media to a way greater extent than it would have been if the judge had given his the suspended sentence the prosecutors had been seeking. I am sure that this has done more damage to his reputation anyway. Not that this makes it any better.
I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. But we should be allowed to be outraged.