Jailed false accuser draws feminist support

Rhiannon Brooker accused her former boyfriend of rape and assault. Her accusations against Paul Fensome landed the man in jail for 37 days. While imprisoned, someone claimed that he was a pedophile and he had to be placed in protective custody.

However, the evidence showed that Brooker’s accusations were false:

Alibis, evidence from Fensome’s phone and his work shift patterns undermined Brooker’s accounts. Injuries were judged to have been self-inflicted and the police dropped their investigations into Fensome and turned their attention on Brooker.

Brooker initially told police she had made false accusations. But when she was charged with perverting the course of justice she retracted her confession. She was found guilty of 12 offences relating to false allegations of five rapes, six assaults and one false imprisonment.

The judge sentenced Brooker to three and a half years, which prompted outrage from feminists:

The support and campaign group Women Against Rape (WAR) was among more than a dozen organisations and lawyers who wrote to the judge arguing that a harsh sentence would put women off coming forward to report rapes for fear they would not be believed.

They wrote: “The prosecution was not in the public interest. A prison sentence will put even more women off reporting, enabling even more attacks from violent men. The resources spent on prosecuting Ms Brooker should have been put into prosecuting rapists and other violent men.”

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