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Anger in New Zealand at 'close your legs' rape defense

21 Comments

Victims' rights advocates in New Zealand on Thursday condemned a defense lawyer who told a rape victim she should have "closed her legs" if she wanted to avoid having sex.

Defense lawyer Keith Jefferies made the remarks when summing up at the trial of his client, a nightclub bouncer who was convicted of rape in Wellington District Court on Wednesday, the Dominion Post reported.

The newspaper said the 20-year-old woman was drunk in the central business district when the bouncer, George Pule, approached her and told her that he could get her into a nightclub where her friends were socialising.

Instead he led her down an alley and raped her, although Jefferies said the victim did not struggle or cry out.

"All she would have had to do was to close her legs... it's as simple as that," the newspaper quoted him as saying in his closing arguments.

"Why didn't she do that? The reason she didn't do that was because the sex was consensual, as easy as that."

Natalie Gousmett from the Wellington Rape Crisis Center said the remarks were "horrific" and attempted to shift the blame for sexual assault onto the victim.

She said the case, and the so-called "Roastbusters" controversy -- which involved a group of Auckland youths boasting online about having group sex with underage girls -- had thrown a spotlight on attitudes to sexual assault in New Zealand.

"It is an example of victim-blaming comments and rape culture, which we've seen all too much in the last week and a half," she said. "It's very offensive obviously, and harmful for the victim and her family."

Jefferies conceded he had made the comments but said they came while defending his client and did not reflect his personal views.

He said he was quoted out of context and that for anyone to fully understand what he meant they would have had to have attended the entire trial, which involved complex issues of consent.

"If there had been anything unduly wrong with what I said I would've been reprimanded by the judge and also the crown lawyer would have complained," he told commercial radio Thursday. "It was relative to the facts of this particular case."

The Dominion Post said prosecutor Geraldine Kelly told the court that the victim, who was not identified, did not fight back because she was petrified of her attacker.

"No, she didn't fight back, she didn't scream her head off, she didn't go running into the street screaming 'Rape!' she said. "But this isn't an American TV show, this is real life. She was scared, and she didn't want to make the situation worse."

Pule is awaiting sentencing on the rape conviction.

© (c) 2013 AFP

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

21 Comments
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'Close your legs'? How about closing your mouth you idiot.

15 ( +15 / -2 )

But this isn’t an American TV show, this is real life.

"This isn't a TV show." ...fair enough. "This isn't an American TV show." ...huh? What is that supposed to mean?

1 ( +8 / -7 )

This is one lawyer that doesn't ppear so learned if he thinks that a girl can avoid rape 'by closing her legs'..........

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The Original Wing, "This isn't an American TV show." ...huh? What is that supposed to mean?"

American TV shows are predictable, when something happens the reaction/resolution is predictable. All of the viewers can comprehend why and how the characters react to various situations. In real life it is much more complicated, we cannot assume the reaction reflects the victims feelings or state of mind.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

B-man, is that unique to American TV? I wasn't aware that was a stereotype of American television.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Wing

I wasn't aware that was a stereotype of American television.

Yep, that and over the top audiences are just two of them.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

So any person, man or woman, who is raped, has only themself to blame, because if they didn't want to engage in sex they could have avoided doing so, simply, by not doing so -- "closing their legs." If sex occurred, it had to, by that definition, have been consensual. Amazing.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

At least he spare us the "pfff you know as well as me that when a girl say no it's mean yes!!!"

Same type, same guy, who does not feel the need to ask before starting, and the judge was probably the same.

The problem today is that everyone seems to find that it is a logical mean of defence to guilty the victim. I am sorry, this should be concidered like a supplementary psychological dammage and a stronger sentence should be enforce after that.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

He's a lawyer and in an adversarial system is expected to say anything, no matter how depraved if it advances his client's cause. It is the jury that decides whether the statement is helpful.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I am in favor of surgical sterilization of both the rapist and his lawyer followed by being treated just like the victim was

2 ( +4 / -2 )

He's a lawyer and in an adversarial system is expected to say anything, no matter how depraved if it advances his client's cause. It is the jury that decides whether the statement is helpful.

There are actually limits to what he can say. Unless he established during questioning that she had the chance at any time to refuse without fear of reprisal, his "close her legs" comment during closing arguments was out of place. Given that this guy was a bouncer, I am going to believe the victim when she says she was scared and didn't want the assault to escalate.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Why when something goes wrong "American/America" have to be brought into the conversation or had something to do with the ills of other countries. He seems as if most posters here just blame the United Snakes for everything or as a poison pill for ever other country wrongs!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Most idiot stupid defense Lawyer on earth.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

He sounds like a perfectly great defense lawyer (sarcasm)... I sure wouldn't want him to defend me.

I wonder what he would have said if the rape victim had been a man....

3 ( +3 / -0 )

There is little doubt that this was rape considering the fact that she was drunk, never met the guy before, he said he would take her to a club but instead took her to an alley, then he opted to have their first in said alley. Its just not credible.

On the other hand she is not denying that she did not say no, stop or that she did not struggle. Also, she does not claim to have been passed out. Considering what I said in the first paragraph, there is no reasonable doubt that this was rape, but, change a few details and if the reasoning holds, it becomes a nightmare for men.

The lawyer really put his foot in his mouth. Even taken out of context he should have seen this one coming. He should have simply said that she should have said "no".

Given that this guy was a bouncer, I am going to believe the victim when she says she was scared and didn't want the assault to escalate.

By just saying "Please stop."? I find him guilty due to circumstances, even despite the fact that no violence was mentioned, but I don't think it excuses her own behavior. Many expect the man to verbally ask, but the woman is not expected to verbally respond to anything? What if he does ask, but she says she was so scared/intimidated that she said "yes"? This leaves men in pickle.

I also don't think its fair to condemn him based on his profession. Its quite enough to look at the circumstances to find him guilty. There is no need to go opening cans of worms.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

the lawyer is probably not much of a human being - but he IS a defense lawyer and his jo is to do anything he can to defend his client; that is how he makes his living. The NZ justice system (like so much of NZ) is extremely fair and equitable. This story only came to light (it likely happens often in NZ courts) because the county is following a high-profile case of police (a hopelessly boy's own lad's brigade) non-action in a string of organised youth-involved statutory rape cases.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Some of these defence lawyers are the most detestable human beings going around.

How do you lie straight in bed at night?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Lawyers will say anything for money and probably sell their own mothers...

0 ( +2 / -2 )

What a disgusting statement. It's people like that who give lawyers a bad name.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

In American TV show if they have rape story in scenario, victims scream and get disfigured or killed, by abusers usually.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Knowing nothing about this case other than what is stated in this article, I would have this defense lawyer disbarred for incompetence. He has essentially given the jury no other option but to convict his client. This guy needs to find himself some other line of work.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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