Trigger Warning for graphic descriptions of sexual assault and discussions of victim re-traumatization.
In a somewhat unusual case out of the UK, three men have just been convicted on various sexual assault charges after gang raping an unconscious woman — an unconscious woman who only became aware of the attack after one of the attackers, Nicholas Jones, saw fit to shock her with the footage he had taken of the rape on his cell phone.
Three men have been jailed over a rape which was only discovered by the victim after she was shown mobile phone footage of the attack.
Mohammed Shahjahan, 27, Nicholas Jones, 26, and Feizal Ali, 26, from Oxford, sexually assaulted the woman while she was unconscious in November.
The woman said she had passed out in a flat in east Oxford after drinking three vodka and Red Bull cocktails and did not remember the attack. She did not discover she had been raped and sexually assaulted until two weeks later when she was shown the footage by one of the perpetrators and described the moment as “a big shock”.
The woman told the BBC that all she remembered was having the three drinks and then waking up in a bed. The court was told that the woman had been “incapable of consent”.
On sentencing the three men, Judge Julian Hall said: “This was a disgraceful incident which would not have come to light but for the fact that Nicholas Jones filmed it, kept it and later showed it to the victim.”
Upon first reading Judge Hall’s words, I assumed that he meant them as an indictment of the horrific nature of the act. In other words, “This attack was terrible, and to compound the horrific nature of it, we never even would have known these three rapists were lurking out there if one of them hadn’t been so sadistic and arrogant as to film the assault and then later re-assault his victim with it.”
But further comments provide a rather disturbing context, and take this news report from being just yet another really terrible story about how rapists like to rape, and turn it into one about rape culture and how even in the face of every reason in the world not to, we like to give rapists the benefit of the doubt:
Hall said Shahjahan was “an arrogant young man who was heartless, shameless and had no consideration for the victim”. Jones, who pleaded guilty to the charges of sexual assault and voyeurism, was described as “a decent young man who did absolutely terrible things that night”.
Wait, the one who took the video and suddenly confronted his victim with it is the “decent young man”? Whose actions we should praise, as they made prosecution possible?
Now, hell. Maybe I’m just biased. But when I think about a man participating in the gang rape of an unconscious woman, filming the assault for posterity, and then later accosting that victim with the video as a means of telling her what he did, “Good Samaritan” isn’t exactly the term that comes to my mind.