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AlanDavid
06-15-2011, 10:54 PM
I'm struggling with a particular point in my work that involves some controversial legal issues and a court trial. I've tried to research it the best I can, but I could really still use some in-context advice from someone who's knowledgeable with law (UK -- particularly in the late 1970s.)

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The situation involves a 30-year-old female school teacher having sexually (and violently) abused a 14-year-old male pupil over the course of 7 months. She was also in possession of illegal drugs, which she adminstered to him.

One of the major issues here is probably obvious. Male sexual assault victims, even today, aren't taken very seriously, especially not if their rapist was female. The laws tend to define 'rape' and 'sexual assault' in such ways that can seriously complicate a female-on-male situation. Trying to keep this as realistic as possible, I'm wondering how it would've been handled over 30 years ago. They reside in a small commuter town outside of London, if it makes any difference.

Other questions I have are...

#1. How long would such a case take to reach a Crown Court from a Magistrate's Court? What would be the mininum amount of time before the trial date? (I'd prefer it to go as quickly as possible to avoid upsetting my timeline, however, I don't want it to seem unrealistic.)

#2. Would it be legally possible for an acquaintance (who is a professional lawyer) to represent the victim in court for no compensation? And would whether the lawyer is a solictor or a barrister affect this?

#3. How likely would it be, considering the circumstances, for the case to get some kind of local media attention?

#4. How much evidence would be necessary for a conviction in this sort of controversial case?

#5. How severe do you think the sentence would be if the defendant were found guilty?

Steve Collins
06-15-2011, 11:24 PM
Alan,

It's a long time ago but I was a Detective in Surrey in the early 80's and nothing much had changed since the late 70's. Firstly, check out this link which I think will help you enormously with UK court procedure: http://sixthformlaw.info/01_modules/mod1/1_2_criminal_process_courts/1_2_2_criminal_courts/04_committal.htm

#1. Depending on whether it was an 'Old Style' Section 6(1) Committal or a 'New Style' Section 6(2) Committal. As can be seen from the link one varies greatly from the other and the detective in the case would be responsible for the paperwork. To get this from Magistrates to Crown would be ball park 6 months depending on the amount of physical evidence and witnesses, it could be less and if 4 months fits the bill then that's acceptable.

#2. Yes, it is feasible as there is no conflict of interest with the prosecution witnesses. Bear in mind that only Queens Counsel (QC) can present a case in Crown Court although they would have the instructing Solicitor there to lend a hand.

#3. In those days there was always a court reporter in every court particularly Crown Court so yes, there could be a lot of media attention.

#4. Back in the day, before the Crown Prosecution Service (or as many now refer to it the Criminal Protection service) every Police force would have it's own firm of solicitors and QC's on retainer. It would not happen today as they want overwhelming evidence, but back then in some cases if the Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) and Solicitors thought it was 50/50 the DCI could authorise 'giving it a run' as it was referred to.

#5. Sadly back in those days even rape of a woman was badly dealt with which is why they eventually set up specialist squads which included women, prior to that male detectives dealt with it and not very tactfully. So in the case of a woman with a young man I don't think the sentence would be that severe and could even be probation. I think if she was foulnd guilty even 18 months custodial would be quite heavy.

Hope this helps? If not, don't hesitate to ask.
Best,
Steve

AlanDavid
06-16-2011, 12:20 AM
Thanks so much for your help. :)

#2. Just making certain I didn't make this part confusing... It would certainly be a conflict of interest, then, if the pupil (victim of the assault) has his best friend's mum represent him, right? ><

I'm gathering the sentence I've given is probably impossibly strict, then. (*cringe* I really, really needed her to go to prison... hopefully for nearly 7 years... :P) So, even if she's been abusing him for 7 months and is a threat to his life (she's used excessive violence that, if not for the story's supernatural elements, would have caused broken bones or worse...) she still wouldn't be punished any more severely? Even with the possession of an illegal drug and the fact she's got naked photographs of the pupil? The fact he's still underaged and she's in a position of authority over him wouldn't help at all?

I mean, I realise it can't be too severe and I've probably exceeded the limits... but if I need to shorten her sentence or eliminate prison altogether, it's going to seriously complicate the pupil's life over the next 7 years. He stays in the same town and I don't see him being safe from her. In the end, I suppose I'm trying to achieve a theme of 'the law didn't serve justice', as it resolves by different means, but I still need some way to keep her out of his life for those years; some way for her to only re-appear in the present of the story.

Steve Collins
06-16-2011, 02:42 AM
Alan,

Apologies, I didn't fully read the question and the fact that she has administered a toxic or noxious substance to a minor (i.e. drugs) would probably get her more time than the sexual abuse so 7 years wouldn't be outragious.

A conflict of interest would only occur if say the pupils best friends mum also knew the defendant, if she didn't then there would be no conflict.

AlanDavid
06-16-2011, 04:16 AM
Thanks again, Steve. :D That's a huge relief. I'm going to have to re-work some things, but it's much better than what I'd feared. You've been very helpful. I was so worried I'd be in for something catastrophic like yet another total re-write. And no, the friend's mum doesn't know the defendant.