This is our truth, tell us yours
EVB have done an excellent post on the ‘predatory teenager’ case here.
Jemima, of course, was in on the ground floor of this story.
There isn’t a huge amount to add, except this.
Neil Wilson may be, in the way many abusers are, a fucked up specimen of humanity. So are lots of us who don’t form relationships with thirteen year olds and send them mixed signals. Read the fuller details offered in this, frankly, badly written account of all the issues various media types have with this case.
What type of person needs to be told that, when approached by a kid truanting from school and cadging cigarettes, it’s not good practice to buy them a whole packet? What kind of person needs to be told that it’s not good practice to encourage a needy, slightly fucked up sounding kid to form a relationship with you then break it off? Who in the name of all that is holy would then do that in a private place, and be surprised if a previously victimized kid responds inappropriately?
It may well be that Neil Wilson is himself a prior victim, who maybe hasn’t the benefit of all the wisdom and experience some of us have. That doesn’t change his guilt. Like Jeremy Forrest, he can’t use the lack of a complaint from his victim as a defence.
You can’t mitigate absolute offences. You create the circumstances in which they occur, you carry the burden of guilt. If you disagree with that, then you have to campaign against the absolute offence in question.
In WIlson’s case there was no need for the prosecution to impeach the witness. The key question is what’s the risk of Wilson re-offending, what’s required to reduce the risk of that happening, and what punishment is required? Now, again, there’s a key issue in English law about the concept of punishment. Bluntly, policy on punishment has been, to a greater or lesser degree privatized to the tabloid press. Wilson could have got all the treatment he needs to reduce the risk of re-offending, but his barrister needed to make sure there wasn’t an inappropriate level of punishment in the sentence for his client. He may even have suspected that Wilson wouldn’t flourish in prison.
At the time of the first reports of the case I suggested to friends that it stank of an informal plea bargain between prosecution and defence; Wilson didn’t fight the charges in return for the prosecution reducing the risk of heavy punishment by putting the victim on trial. If we were less likely to let the tabloids set the agenda on punishment it might have been a very different case.