Ched Evans has been found not guilty of raping a woman in a hotel five years ago following a retrial.
In 2012, the Welshman was found guilty and sentenced to five years in prison for the 2011 rape of a then 19-year-old waitress in a hotel room. Evans was released in 2014 after serving half his sentence and in April of this year won an appeal of the conviction based on his submission of previously unavailable evidence.
That new evidence was apparently testimony from former sexual partners of the accuser, a highly unusual allowance since, by law, a complainant's sexual history is typically off-limits. Women's advocacy groups are condemning the decision.
During the retrial, the former partners gave "explicit evidence in court about her sex life," and a jury today took just two hours to find the former Manchester City and Sheffield United striker not guilty.
This despite is the fact that, as the Guardian reports, "In court, Evans admitted he lied to get the key for the hotel room and did not speak to her before, during or after sex. He left via a fire exit. It also emerged that Evans' younger brother and another man were trying to film what was happening from outside the room."
If this all sounds like a horrible shitshow, it gets worse. The prosecutors accused the Evans camp of feeding information to the two former sexual partners during the appeal process, and Evans's fiancee, Natasha Massey, was accused of attempting to bribe a key witness in the retrial. Nevertheless, Evans has been cleared and "rushed...into the arms" of Massey.
Evans claims his former teammate Clayton McDonald was having consensual sex with the victim when he walked into the room, and that McDonald asked if Evans could join in and she said yes. The victim – whose life was made a living hell after her identity was leaked on social media, forcing her to change her name five times and move home almost as frequently – says she woke up the next day naked in her hotel room with no recollection of what happened to her.
In June, League One side Chesterfield signed Evans to a one-year deal and were "delighted to have secured the services of an outstanding footballer, who is now keen to get back to work and score goals." He has thus far scored four times in seven appearances for the Spireites.