Late spring 2008
It was several more months before the (alleged) sexual assault came to court. Some three-quarters of a year after the event itself.
Even then, Bink didn’t trouble us with it. She didn’t want us distressed or upset on her behalf.
Fleet St had no such qualms. Every newspaper knew whose daughter she was. Several editors rang me asking for a comment or an article.
Indeed, anyone who recognised Bink’s clothing would have known her. As a token nod in the direction of the law – that victims of a sexual attack are entitled to anonymity – her face had been pixilated. Big deal. Not her trousers or hoodie or shoes. Nor indeed her parents’ occupations.
It was a miserable affair.
If he had been found guilty: his academic career (not to mention freedom, for the time being) would have been over.
If innocent – or rather, “not guilty” – then Bink herself was obviously (to the Daily Mail, anyway) guilty of all sorts of vile and jealous motives; malicious and evil accusations; and most hurtfully of all to someone so precise, lying and inaccuracy.
This, of a witness who could cite exactly what was said and who was wearing what and when, the previous summer. As against someone just out of his last exam and off his face with more celebratory units than he could possibly remember...
I understand why we have an adversarial judicial system, and in general I admire it. Indeed, I’ve often thought how, in another world and time, Bink’s formidable talents and energy and intellectual precision could be put to devastating effect as my learned friend for the defence. Probably defence of some utterly disreputable otherwise-no-hoper.
But in this instance, it seemed wholly and completely inappropriate.
Not for the first time – as Bink’s friend who had urged her to report the case could also have testified – her assailant had acted inappropriately, offensively and in Bink’s case, pretty devastatingly damagingly.
Nobody, however, thought he had acted with deliberate or malevolent intent. He was drunk. And he had rather too good an opinion of himself and his attractions to the opposite sex. But he hadn’t particularly wanted Bink hurt: his gracious words after the trial made that clear.
So why not an old-fashioned and discreet – and prompt – visit from the cops immediately afterwards to give him a nasty shock, tell him such behaviour was a serious breach of what was acceptable let alone legal, and warn him never to do it again? A caution perhaps, if that would have been right and appropriate?
And a similarly old-fashioned apology from him to Bink, also immediately afterwards, to say he now realised he’d overstepped the mark, he was sorry he’d distressed and disrespected her and he would treat women with more care and attention in future?
Mightn’t that have been just as effective, and a lot less damaging and expensive, than nine months of investigation, several days of trial, a very great deal of legal and police time, his face and name recognisable all over the national news and Bink – albeit anonymously – deemed a slut and a liar, and at least one ex-boyfriend and quite a few complete strangers sending her very unpleasant and revolting messages and texts afterwards. One of which was from the other side of the world. Telling her she had let down Christians everywhere. Thanks.
Not to mention a group of previously close friends polarised into taking sides without even, in some cases, bothering to hear the evidence.
And Bink too traumatised to return to the university and city she loved.