Thursday, May 26, 2011

Girl Has Five Men Arrested on False Rape Claim, Judge Criticizes the Men

Hannah Patenall was spared jail after she had five young men arrested on a false rape claim. 

Patenall, then 17, had sex with three men, then called police and, using a fake name, claimed she had been forcibly raped. As a result, five men, ages 18 to 21, were arrested.

The police accepted Patenall's word over that of the five young men. They told detectives that Patenall had approached them in the street and offered them sex.

Two of the men spent 24 hours in police custody; three spent 13 hours, and all were asked to provide body fluid samples. They were released and on bail for five weeks.

It turns out the police arrested the men before reviewing the evidence. One of the men found a recording on his phone of his sexual encounter with Patenall which showed she had consented. In addition, police later examined CCTV footage and saw the girl walking with the men and with her arm around one and kissing one.

Despite the young men's ordeal of being falsely accused of a vile crime and wrongly incarcerated, despite the fact that Patenall apparently initiated the encounter that led to consensual sex with the young men, Judge Michael Kay had no sympathy for the young men. He said that although the five did not deserve what happened following their encounter with the girl, they were not "basking in glory" because of their "behaviour." 

The Judge further made it clear that he considered Patenall not a free moral agent who was fully capable of deciding whether to engage in a wild, albeit stupid, sexual encounter, but, in fact, the real victim here: "You were plainly vulnerable, 17 at the time and these young men were quite prepared to take advantage of the unfortunate situation."  (It is, of course, unclear what "unfortunate situation" the men were "tak[ing] advantage" of, since it appears she was the initiator.)

Her attorney told the court that she had mental health issues and was suffering from a personality disorder.  Judge Kay described the case as having elements that were "sordid, sad and distressing." 

As befitting Patenall's status as the real victim here, the judge spared her a custodial sentence. Patenall was given a 12-month sentence in a young offenders' institution suspended for two years and made the subject of a mental health treatment requirement for the next 18 months. She was also placed on supervision for 18 months.