This particular story has seen the light of day many times in the past few years, it may be drawing nearer to a conclusion however with Ched Evans being linked with Oldham Athletic, a decision currently in the works. There is a debate in whether or not he should be allowed to sign for a club and play professional football again. It is more complicated than the majority of those spouting opinions will admit, but it can be dissected and scrutinised.
If his actions did indeed constitute rape then he did not serve enough time, nor was he granted enough time; Evans served just over 2 years of a 5 year sentence. However, given the description of the event Evans‘ compatriot Clayton McDonald no doubt should have served a sentence as well. This was not the case and the latter was acquitted with the former sentenced. (i)
This is not a debate into whether or not he is a rapist or not, I have not the legal intelligence to argue this point. Rather the state of forgiveness, and how the mob need to back off. After all our prison system is not one strictly for punishment, it is for rehabilitation. He did serve an incredibly short time for such a serious crime. But is he not rehabilitated? He protests his innocence, along with his partner, and is still on the case to clear his name. Whilst it’s not irregular for someone to lie in a case such as this his passion for his own personal justice does seem somewhat peculiar.
Oldham in 2007 also signed Lee Hughes who had served, similarly, half of his sentence, this time 6 years. At 38 he remains an active member of the footballing community, in whatever small capacity he possesses to do so. Their chairman now echoes a similar sentiment in believing in the rehabilitation of criminals. (ii)
Again this case is not over, an investigation is underway analysing Evans‘ conviction. Of course I am not condoning his actions, nor Hughes or, McDonald‘s for that matter, but one must rethink what our justice system is about and what rehabilitation actually warrants. It would be difficult seeing a character with such a sketchy history earn anything from a pittance to silly money for playing football, but again he has served time and whilst remorse may not be at the forefront of his campaign, he is clearly passionate about proving his innocence. If it is proven he should not have been sentenced, what then? If he is to be reintroduced into society then where is fitting for him? If we removed every person, male or female, who did what he did then how many people would really be left?
Regardless of his innocence Evans‘ did do something wrong and where he differs from Hughes is that Hughes expressed remorse, visited the families and apologised for his actions. Evans has not done this, only wishing for sympathy. He should express remorse, though his actions may not be considered rape, he did something incredibly disgusting; taking advantage of someone, and whilst in the minimalist capacity that is not illegal, for that at least he should express remorse.