Monday 22 July 2019

'Crass... insulting' - Teacher raped while sleeping hits out at George Hook's 'implied consent' comments

George Hook
George Hook Newsdesk Newsdesk

A FORMER teacher raped by her boyfriend while she slept has criticised broadcaster George Hook over comments he made about “implied consent” on his radio show.

Niamh Nic Dhomhnaill has come to national prominence this week after her former partner was handed down a suspended seven-year sentence.

The court heard she had been raped and sexually assaulted in her sleep by Magnus Meyer Hustveit (25).

Reacting to the suspended sentence, Ms Nic Dhomhnaill has said she has received “no justice” and the Rape Crisis Centre has also been highly critical, while the issue of rape sentencing was debated on George Hook’s show on Newstalk yesterday evening - and has lead to some criticism.

“I was shocked to hear Mr Hook’s comments last night regarding ‘implied consent’ within relationships,” Ms Nic Dhomhnaill (28) said this afternoon.

And she expressed her surprise and disappointment also that the radio station to which she gave her first interview yesterday morning did “within hours broadcast such a crass, outdated and insulting comment about victims of sexual abuse in intimate relationships.

Magnus Meyer Hustveit (25)
Magnus Meyer Hustveit (25)

“I am sure that Mr Hook is more than aware of the statistics that show that most abusers are known to their victims, and I do not feel that I need to educate any of you or him on the matter, it is easily researched and I am sure that the station has enough researchers to do so,” she added.

"The motivation behind Mr Hook’s comments are beyond rationale."

Read more: Former teacher raped by her boyfriend as she slept to seek appeal against seven year suspended sentence

During his show, Mr Hook was speaking with Senator Ivana Bacik.

He asked: “Hypothetically, you go into a relationship with somebody, be it marriage or you’re living with someone.

“Now you are sharing a bed with somebody, sexual congress takes place on a regular basis because you are living with somebody. Is there not an implied consent therefore that you consent to sexual congress?”

Senator Bacik responded: “George, that’s an outrageous suggestion, I’m surprised at you.”

Mr Hook replied: “I’m speaking to a professor of criminology at Trinity College in Dublin, I opened the interview saying I need your help here and therefore I’m asking the question… It’s absolutely true is it not... that before a certain date in law there was no rape within marriage?”

Ms Bacik rejoined: “That’s correct and I was just about to say that.

“I’m appalled that even for you that is a terribly dated and unbelievable assertion to make.

“As you know George in 1990, that when we happily changed our law after pressure from rape crisis groups and feminist groups. It’s outrageous that up until 1990, a man, in law, was found incapable of raping his wife in marriage.”

Mr Hook didn’t let the matter drop: “You throw out words like outrageous and suddenly poor auld George is in the dock...

“Is it not difficult for judges, police and all the other apparatus of the state… It’s dead easy if a woman goes to a dance and has a couple of pints and suddenly is raped in her apartment... that’s a fairly easy case.

“I’m trying to reflect on a case that is being described as ‘very exceptional’”.

Ms Bacik conceded: “It is more difficult to prosecute rape cases where there is a relationship, however, I think in Ireland for far too long, we’ve brushed over and chosen not to note the actual reality of rape.

“The majority of sex offences occur where the perpetrator is known to the victim .

“The breach of trust involved is part of the deeply traumatic of the case for the victim.”

Read more: Young teacher's anger after boyfriend who raped her while she slept avoids jail

Ms Nic Dhomhnaill – who waived her right to anonymity because she wanted to raise awareness of the issue – issued a statement this afternoon calling on Newstalk to make a public response to her criticism.

“I am speaking on behalf of all those who heard that and felt undermined and hurt by such antiquated, factually and legally incorrect comments,” she said.

“Mr Hook may have uttered those contemptible words, but it is you as an organisation who, if by not responding, uphold and support the sentiment he expressed.

“That is victim blaming. That is rape culture. That cannot be acceptable, and it is not acceptable.”

A spokesperson for Newstalk said it was not issuing a statement, but the broadcaster spoke at the beginning of the show this afternoon.

He said:

“Yesterday evening on this programme I spoke to Ivana Bacik, professor of criminology and penology at Trinity College Dublin, about the case and the prosecution of sex crimes in this country.”

“In that discussion we spoke about how pre-1990 a man was legally incapable of raping his wife.”

“It has come to my attention that Ms Ni Dhomhnaill was hurt by what I said and felt that I was insensitive to her plight and to other cases. That was never my intention.”

“I never said, and would never say, that a man has implied consent from the woman with whom he shares a bed.

“However, Professor Backic agreed that it was difficult to prosecute rape cases where there was an existing relationship.

“I’m appalled at what happened to that young woman in what should have been the safety of her own bed.

“What happened was a betrayal of the worst kind. Betrayed by the man she trusted and loved in the sanctity of her own home.

“As a husband a father and a grandfather I’m shocked and saddened by this case.”

Dublin Rape Crisis Centre CEO Ellen O'Malley Dunlop had earlier told “The law is very black and white on this. Sex without consent is rape. In 1991, the law changed to include that sex with consent in a marriage is considered rape.”

Ms Nic Dhomhnaill, who was suffering from an illness at the time of the relationship, said following the sentencing she did not believe the criminal justice system had the necessary respect for victims.

The facts of the case emerged only when Hustveit wrote to his former partner stating he had been using her "body for my gratification" for nearly a year.

The Norwegian man, previously of Leo Street, North Circular Road, Dublin, pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to one count of rape, and one count of sexual assault, between 2011 and 2012.

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy said the most significant features of the case were the deceit, the repetition of the offences, and the effect on the victim.

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