January 23, 2020
Family court judges could get new training on the “appropriate” way to deal with sexual assault and rape allegations.
Family Judges Could Get Training After Complaint About Outdated Rape Comment
A High Court judge has made a recommendation after a woman complained about one family court judge’s “outdated” views.
Ms Justice Russell, who is based in the Family Division of the High Court in London, says family court judges regularly have to make decisions about cases where allegations of serious sexual assault are made – but are not required to undergo training on the appropriate approach.
She has recommended training in a ruling on a woman’s appeal against a decision by Judge Robin Tolson.
The woman had argued that Tolson’s approach led to her losing a fight with a former partner centred on their son.
She said Tolson’s “outdated views” on sex assault had influenced his findings.
The woman and her partner had separated more than three years ago. Their son remained in her care.
Family court litigation began after the man asked to be allowed to spend time with the boy, but the woman objected and said the man had been controlling and had raped her.
Tolson, who was asked to make findings relating to the woman’s domestic violence allegations, ruled against her after a private hearing at the Central Family Court in London in August.
The woman appealed and said Tolson had concluded that “because” she had “taken no physical steps” to stop the man, “this did not constitute rape”.
Russell allowed the woman’s appeal, and said the woman’s allegations should be reconsidered at a fresh hearing before a different judge.
Russell, who oversaw an appeal hearing in London in December, said, in a ruling delivered on Wednesday that Tolson had “apparently concluded” it was “necessary” for victims of sexual assault to report the assault or make a contemporaneous report.
She said it was now “explicitly accepted” that many victims would not do so out of “fear or embarrassment”.
“The logical conclusion of this judge’s approach is that it is both lawful and acceptable for a man to have sex with his partner regardless of their enjoyment or willingness to participate,” Russell added. 
“The judgment was so flawed as to require a retrial.”
Russell had analysed the woman’s appeal at a public hearing in the Family Division of the High Court but said the family at the centre of the case could not be identified in media reports.Related... Teenager Gang Raped 42 Years Ago Pleads For Men Who Helped Her To Step Forward Friendly Emails From Harvey Weinstein’s Accusers Do Not Make Them Liars The Cyprus Rape Case Shows Just How Dangerous Victim-Blaming Is For Women
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