Wednesday 21 March 2018

Cambridge PhD student 'shunned like a leper' at university after fiancée falsely accused him of beating her up

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Stock photo

Martin Evans

A Cambridge PhD student has described how he was "shunned like a leper" at the university after his fiance falsely accused him of beating her up.

Matt Baron, 26, was banned from Christ's College and sent home in disgrace, when his girlfriend, fellow PhD student, Sophia Cooke, told police he had attacked her when she admitted to an affair.

She told university bosses that she was terrified Mr Baron would attack her again and he was shunned by many of his friends and fellow students.

But last week a court cleared Mr Baron of assault, with magistrates dismissing her allegations as "inconsistent and not credible".

He has now revealed the extent of his ordeal and has said he wished he had never agreed to marry her, claiming he did so in a "moment of weakness" after she proposed while they were on holiday.

Mr Baron, who has just completed his doctoral thesis on marine paleontology, said: "I was shunned like a leper. Women students shouted obscenities at me in the streets and one male friend, whose wedding I attended, emailed to say that I was a vile scumbag who should rot in jail.

"I found myself banned from my college and sent home to Derbyshire in disgrace.

"Then, after I managed to convince the college to let me finish my PhD work. I was treated like a pariah."

Just hours after the verdict, Miss Cooke, posted an inflammatory message on her Facebook Page, saying genuine abuse victims should not come forward.

She wrote: "Perhaps the victims of abuse or abuse or rape should avoid reporting anything to the police. The process can hurt far more than the abuse itself."

But despite his ordeal Mr Baron said he had no criticism of the criminal system when investigating claims of abuse.

He said: “I think it is right to protect those who are victimised. If my suffering is the price to be paid for even one person being saved by intervention, then I accept it.”

Even though Mr Baron was cleared of assault by battery, he must wait to find out if he will be allowed back into his college when officials meet later this month to discuss the case.

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