This is the joint website of  Women Against Rape and Black Women's Rape Action Project. Both organisations are based on self-help and provide support, legal information and advocacy. We campaign for justice and protection for all women and girls, including asylum seekers, who have suffered sexual, domestic and/or racist violence.

WAR was founded in 1976. It has won changes in the law, such as making rape in marriage a crime, set legal precedents and achieved compensation for many women. BWRAP was founded in 1991. It focuses on getting justice for women of colour, bringing out the particular discrimination they face. It has prevented the deportation of many rape survivors. Both organisations are multiracial.

 

 

 

Brian Witty – another serial rapist brought to justice, but why did it take four women before he was stopped?

PRESS RELEASE

In Kingston Crown Court today Brian Witty was found guilty of three counts of rape and one count of sexual assault. Brian Witty, former captain in the Paras, then city banker, was found guilty of three rapes and one sexual assault, spanning 17 years – 1995 to 2011. All four women had been attacked shortly after meeting and drinking with him. Two had met him via the website DatingDirect.com; three were raped in Witty’s flat; the fourth was sexually assaulted in the street. Each woman reported to the police right away and each time Witty was questioned – but not charged. He claimed the women consented and despite the police and Crown Prosecution Service knowing that he had been reported more than once he was let go – three times. Only when the fourth woman reported, in August 2011, were the four cases revisited and charges laid.

It has taken four women to come forward for this serial rapist to be stopped. Lisa Longstaff of Women Against Rape, who was in court supporting one of Witty’s victims, commented:

‘The trial has shown, once again, that with serial rapists police and CPS have a serial response – they believe the rapist rather than his victim, turning their backs on women’s pain. The fourth investigation was far better than the previous ones, witnesses who had been neglected were interviewed and evidence gathered. This is what should happen every time rape is reported. In some countries it takes two women to give evidence to carry the legal weight of one man, here it took four.’

Charming one minute, threatening the next, he told his victims that he was in the army and had killed people: “I could kill you if I like, nobody would do anything.” The prosecution argued that all four charges should be heard together because all four women had described the same man and the same modus operandi – encouraging women to drink to excess, refusing to take no for an answer. The fourth woman in her evidence said, “He was an officer and I assumed a gentleman,” – but he turned out to be a dangerous “sexual bully”.

The prosecution said that failure to charge earlier had emboldened him and made him feel “untouchable” Brian Witty first came to our attention in 2011 when one of his victims Ms C contacted us. As a result of our intervention and support, her rape case was reopened and the accused was charged. She was unaware at the time that two other women had reported Witty before her whose cases had also been dropped, and that a fourth woman had subsequently accused him of rape.

Ms C told the court that in 2008 she was raped by Witty at his flat. She escaped, called 999 and ran to his neighbours, who waited with her until the police came. She was medically examined and injury found.

In the trial, previous reports of sexual attacks were brought up to discredit her character. The defence argued that she had set the whole thing up so she could claim compensation. It was not pointed out in court that her reports were not false, merely unprosecuted. Nor how many women suffer more than one attack in a lifetime – according to a recent survey by Mumsnet, 23% of rape survivors had been raped or sexually assaulted four or more times.

If she had been the victim of four burglaries, she’d have been given special protection as a vulnerable repeat victim. As a rape victim, she was treated with suspicion and disbelieved. Others have been accused of making false allegations and prosecuted while their attackers are free to rape again. Similar tactics have long been used to explore women’s sexual history in order to discredit their evidence. Following our campaign such questions were restricted under the Youth Justice & Criminal Evidence Act, 1999, but not nearly enough – judges have discretion and often allow irrelevant questions to be put to the witnesses.

In 1995 we helped two sex workers bring the first successful private prosecution for rape. The rapist was sentenced to 14 years (11 on appeal). We won on the same evidence the CPS had said was insufficient – they assumed the women would not be believed and they were proved wrong.

Clearly it is in the public interest to prosecute rapists – if Witty had been prosecuted earlier, his later victims could have been spared. Earlier this year an HMIC/HMCPS report criticised police and prosecutors for allowing serial rapists to stay free because of a raft of investigative failures driven by suspicions about women reporting rape and crime targets. The report said that on average, reported rapes were four times more likely than GBH not to be recorded as a crime.

How many more victims before such bias stops?

Judge Nicholas Price QC said to the jury on hearing the verdict, “I’ve been involved in law for 44 years. It’s always been my view that the jury is the bedrock of justice in this country. There’ve been various attacks on the jury system in recent years. It has stood firm for hundreds of years and I very much hope it will stand firm for hundreds more, . . I discharge you with grateful thanks. It’s been clear to everyone how seriously you took these responsibilities.”

Contact Women Against Rape on 020 7482 2496 24 April 2012

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