If you’ve been following this case in the news, you’ll know that Michael Le Vell, the actor who plays Kevin Webster in Coronation Street, was accused of sexually abusing a six year old girl. The girl, who is now 17 and hasn’t been named to protect her identity, says that he systematically abused her over a number of years and although the Crown Prosecution Service originally dropped the case through lack of evidence, Mr. Le Vell was charged with 19 offenses following a review of the evidence in early 2013.
Yesterday, I was driving home from picking up lunch for Husband and I, listening to Radio 2 when the news broke that Mr. Le Vell had been found innocent. As I walked into the house, I said to Husband “Have you heard? That nonce from Coronation Street has been found innocent”.
And therein lies my point. Despite the fact that a jury of his peers had found Michael Le Vell completely innocent, in my head, I’d still branded him a child molester.
When it comes to offenses of a sexual nature, especially when they involve a minor, as soon as someone is implicated it becomes very hard to forget the accusations, even when someone is found guilty. I have no idea why the young lady involved would lie about such a thing, but it happens a lot.
I’m by NO means a fan of Neil and Christine Hamilton, but what is it you remember about those two? Is it Mr. Hamilton’s political career, or their desperate attempts to shake their image off on a number of reality TV shows? Or is it the fact that they were both accused of rape by a young woman in 2001? As it happens, that woman served a prison sentence for perverting the course of justice with her entirely false accusations, but does anyone know about that? I doubt many do.
When people make false claims, it allows them to wield a certain amount of power over others, and what’s perhaps even more damaging, is that it adds to our culture of victim blame. What happens to the next person, a genuine victim, who isn’t believed because of too many people crying wolf and leaving the general public jaded?
And the fact that there is no anonymity in place for people who’ve been accused is another huge problem. Had Michale Le Vell been allowed a closed trial, he wouldn’t have been dragged through the media and his very downtrodden image wouldn’t be synonymous with a slew of headlines proclaiming him to be something he’s now been proved not to be, without reasonable doubt.
Michael Le Vell has been proven innocent by a jury, and the way that our criminal justice system works means that we must believe that. Innocent until proven guilty, and all that, but I suspect he’s going to find it very difficult to shake the branding that has been placed on him. There will always be doubt, people scrutinizing him, strangers pulling their kids away from him with an almost imperceptible tug at the sleeve.
So, despite the fact that Mr. Le Vell is very much innocent, to many people he will always be considered guilty.