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Teenage girl's underwear used against her in rape case

A jury acquitted a man accused of raping a teenage girl after his lawyer instructed jurors to consider the type of underwear the teen was wearing when the alleged assault took place in Cork, Ireland.

The issue of consent was at the center of the case involving a 27-year-old man and his 17-year-old accuser.

Senior counsel Elizabeth O’Connell told the jury to consider that the girl was wearing a lacy thong at the time of the encounter, The Irish Examiner reported.

“Does the evidence out-rule the possibility that she was attracted to the defendant and was open to meeting someone and being with someone? You have to look at the way she was dressed. She was wearing a thong with a lace front,” she said in her closing arguments, according to the report.

Her remark sparked backlash among advocates for survivors of sexual assault.

Dublin Rape Crisis Centre head Noeline Blackwell told she wasn’t surprised that the girl’s underwear was brought into evidence.

She said underwear is often introduced into evidence in rape cases for a variety of reasons. It can be used as forensic evidence, or to attack a plaintiff’s credibility, which she believes was the case in this instance.

It can be used “to back up elements of where the defense will be saying that the person was in some ways nearly consenting to sex because of the way that she was dressed and in those cases what they are doing is building on rape stereotypes,” Blackwell said.

She said that in this case, the barrister used the teen’s underwear “to ask the jury to believe that because somebody is dressed in a certain way, they are consenting to sex and the reason you want the jury to think about that, is if there is consent, then it’s not a crime.”

“That’s basically what the barrister’s argument was,” she said.

The 27-year-old man who had denied raping the young woman in a lane in Cork was found not guilty by a jury of eight men and four women.

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