A man in Ireland was acquitted of raping a teenage girl after his defense attorney told jurors they should consider what kind of underwear she was wearing, The Irish Examiner reports.
The defendant, a 27-year-old man, was accused of raping a 17-year-old girl in Cork, Ireland.
In closing arguments, defense lawyer Elizabeth O’Connell said the jury should take into account the fact that at the time of the alleged sexual contact, the girl had on a lacy thong.
“Does the evidence out-rule the possibility that she was attracted to the defendant and was open to meeting someone and being with someone? You have to look at the way she was dressed. She was wearing a thong with a lace front,” O’Connell said, according to the Irish Examiner.
The statement prompted outrage from sexual assault survivors and their advocates. Noeline Blackwell, who leads the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, said a victim’s underwear is often entered into evidence in sex crimes cases.
Blackwell told Newstalk.com the clothing may have forensic value to aid the prosecution, or like in this case, to attack the victim’s credibility.
The move, she said, can “back up elements of where the defense will be saying that the person was in some ways nearly consenting to sex because of the way that she was dressed and in those cases what they are doing is building on rape stereotypes.”
Blackwell said O’Connell used the victim’s underwear “to ask the jury to believe that because somebody is dressed in a certain way, they are consenting to sex and the reason you want the jury to think about that, is if there is consent, then it’s not a crime.”
Prosecutor Tom Creed said the victim did not consent to engaging in any sexual intercourse. He added that a witness saw the defendant’s hand on the victim’s throat, although the defendant denied that allegation.