‘Convictions for rape, sexual assault, and domestic abuse are woefully low and when charges are dropped in high profile cases such as this, faith in the justice system is further eroded,’ Refuge said in a statement.
Mason Greenwood, the 21-year-old Manchester United footballer accused of attempted rape and assault, has had all charges against him dropped today after the Crown Prosecution Service said key witnesses have withdrawn from the case.
The striker was first held in January after harrowing images and videos of the accuser were posted online. He had faced one count of attempted rape, one count of controlling and coercive behavior, and one count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, all against the same complainant. In October, he was arrested for breaching bail conditions. Then today, a CPS spokesperson said that due to the witness’s withdrawal, and new material coming to light, ‘there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction.’
In October, it was revealed that Greenwood had breached his bail by contacting the accuser in the case, with prosecutor Rebecca Macaulay-Addison telling the magistrate’s court hearing ‘He was arrested on Saturday morning for breaching his police conditional bail. He was found in the company of the complainant.’
Greenwood’s lawyer, David Toal, admitted the breach had taken place, saying: ‘I absolutely concede it is his responsibility to abide by all bail conditions imposed’ adding that ‘contact has occurred for many months’ and that it was ‘no secret’ to Greater Manchester Police. District Judge Mark Hadfield then questioned why police deliberately ignored the breaches, saying, ‘What I am being told is the defendant flagrantly breached the conditions over weeks or even months and police haven’t done anything about it.’
Since the charges were dropped today, Greenwood released the following statement: ‘I am relieved that this matter is now over and I would like to thank my family, loved ones, and friends for their support. There will be no further comment at this time.’
In a statement released on Thursday by Greater Manchester Police, chief superintendent Michaela Kerr, the force’s head of public protection, said it understood the rationale for the CPS discontinuing proceedings at this stage, and that ‘this decision has not been taken lightly.’
‘I would, however, like to use this opportunity to reiterate GMP’s commitment to investigating allegations of violence against women and girls and supporting those affected, regardless of their circumstances, throughout what can be a hard and upsetting time for them,’ she continued. ‘An ever-increasing number of officers are receiving specialist training and the force is more consistently utilizing tools, available via the criminal justice system, to keep people safe and care for victims. If you feel you are or might be a victim, please don’t let this case put you off asking for help.’
The online reaction has been unnerving, to say the least, with the narrative quickly turning misogynistic and abusive towards the accuser. Fake accounts have been made claiming to be her, spreading harrowing allegations that perpetuate myths around false accusations. It’s what caused domestic violence charity Refuge to put out a statement about the high-profile case, encouraging victims of abuse not to be deterred by the current online discourse.
‘Refuge stands in solidarity with all survivors of domestic abuse and believes that all survivors must be believed and supported,’ CEO Ruth Davidson tweeted. ‘We know that high-profile cases in the media can be extremely triggering for survivors of abuse. Convictions for rape, sexual assault, and domestic abuse are woefully low and when charges are dropped in high-profile cases such as this, faith in the justice system is further eroded. Survivors should never be discouraged from speaking out about their experience, and we worry that survivors will stop collecting evidence and be hesitant to report their abuse to the police.’
Women’s Aid put out a similar statement, tweeting ‘5 in 6 women who are raped don’t report it to the police. Many fear being disbelieved or their case being disregarded. We know the news of #MasonGreenwood’s charges being dropped may be triggering to many survivors. If you need support, talk to us.’
Others are now jumping to support accusers everywhere, making the case that it’s entirely up to a victim whether or not they choose to go through legal proceedings.
Speculation on #MasonGreenwood decision aside, a victim has a right to decide if they want to pursue their abuser in court. Court backlogs, brutal cross-examinations… survivor’s drop charges for many reasons. All we can and must do is better victim’s experiences to/in court.— David Challen (@David_Challen) February 3, 2023
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