Rape victim could have 'closed legs', says lawyer

Last updated 05:00 14/11/2013

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A young Wellington woman raped by a bouncer in an alleyway could have "closed her legs" if she didn't want sex, the man's lawyer told a jury.

Keith Jefferies was addressing the Wellington District Court in defence of George Jason Pule, who was found guilty last night of raping the drunk 20-year-old after telling her he could help get her into a club to see her friends.

His comments were condemned after the verdict as "disgusting" and "disrespectful" by Wellington Rape Crisis manager Natalie Gousmett.

They come in the wake of the Roast Busters scandal, in which a group of young Auckland men boasted online of having sex with drunken girls as young as 13.

Jefferies told the jury that the complainant and Pule, 34, a bouncer at The Establishment bar, had walked down Courtenay Place holding hands before having consensual sex in the early hours of October 22, 2011.

He claimed the woman made a false complaint to police six days later because she regretted the sex. There was no struggle or any threats, nor was there violence, Jefferies said in his closing arguments yesterday.

"All she would have had to do was to close her legs . . . it's as simple as that," he told the jury. "Why didn't she do that? . . . The reason she didn't do that was because the sex was consensual, as easy as that."

Gousmett said Jefferies' remarks were unacceptable. "It's disgusting, but also unnecessary, to use that kind of victim-blaming rhetoric."

Jefferies said after the verdict that his comments were made as part of the defence, and were not his personal view.

"This is the defence of a criminal charge. The Crown and the judge didn't complain about it."

The case revolved around whether sex was consensual, which made the complainant's position important, he said.

"The accused was of the view there was an element of willingness from the accuser, and that she was a willing partner. What I say to the jury doesn't represent my personal view. It merely represents the defence."

Crown prosecutor Geraldine Kelly said in court that the complainant held Pule's hand as they walked down Courtenay Place only because she "thought he was her saviour".

When he tried to kiss and grope her she clearly said no, and was clearly saying no as he bent her against a wall and raped her.

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

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Kelly said it was Pule who approached the woman in Courtenay Place when she was alone, and drunk on beer and vodka. Her friends had gone home earlier, but she had stayed in town with a co-worker and her sister.

The three women were in the line for The Establishment when the complainant realised she had left her ID with a friend who had gone home. She then decided to go home on her own, went to a bus stop, but realised she was also without her eftpos card or money.

When Pule approached her, she told him she needed to get into a bar to see her friends. He said he was a bouncer and could get her in, but had to pick something up first. He then led her towards Cuba St and raped her.

- The Dominion Post

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