UK

Nick Ross Forced To Defend Himself After Backlash Over Rape Comments

26/05/2013 22:51 BST | Updated 03/06/2013 09:53 BST
PA

SEE ALSO: Former Crimewatch Presenter Nick Ross Admits 'I'd Probably Watch Child Porn'

Broadcaster Nick Ross was forced to defend himself today over controversial remarks suggesting "rape isn't always rape".

The former Crimewatch presenter made the comments in his new book, serialised in the Mail on Sunday, in which he claimed half of all women who have had penetrative sex unwillingly do not think they were raped.

The comments, which have been criticised by some anti-rape campaigners, follow an outcry in 2011 when Ken Clarke, the then-justice secretary, faced calls to resign for using the words "serious rape".

In a statement, Mr Ross, 65, insisted the book was "serious, carefully researched and evidence-based" and described rape as "one of the most defiling crimes".

He said: "Far from attacking victims the chapter explores why so few victims report rape, why so few prosecutions take place, and whether criminal courts are the best way of helping to deal with the appalling suffering caused by sex attacks," he said.

In the extract from his book, Crime, Mr Ross said it had become "sacrilege to suggest that there can be any gradation: rape is rape".

"The real experts, the victims, know otherwise," he wrote.

"Half of all women who have had penetrative sex unwillingly do not think they were raped, and this proportion rises strongly when the assault involves a boyfriend, or if the woman is drunk or high on drugs: they went too far, it wasn't forcible, they didn't make themselves clear...

"For them, rape isn't always rape and however upsetting, they feel is a long way removed from being systematically violated or snatched off the street."

In response to the Mail on Sunday's publication, Mr Ross said the paper had chosen to focus on a single chapter which "touches on the highly emotive issue of rape".

He admitted the edited version was fair but claimed his views were not as thoroughly explained as in the full text of the book.

In his statement, Mr Ross said: "For the record, lest it needs saying, and, as I make clear in the published extracts, anyone who suffers such a violating crime should be the centre of our concerns.

"As I write in the book, rape is one of the most defiling crimes and there is never excuse or justification for it."

He said the book cited research which found that many victims themselves do not regard what happened to them as rape, "even though in law it plainly was".

He continued: "In other words victims themselves plainly see gradations in rape: 'It has become sacrilege to suggest that there can be any gradation: rape is rape. The real experts, the victims, know otherwise.'

"In fact far from taking a chauvinistic view my chapter on sexual crime disparages the patronising views of women that still too often prevail.

"Instead of disdaining victims I praise the work done by victim advocates. Over the past two decades I have devoted a lot of my energies to supporting victims' groups and was for many years an active member of the advisory board of Victim Support.

"And far from blaming people my book says we are too quick to blame, and that it tends to distract us from finding solutions to crime.

"While I acknowledge the self-evident truth that we - all of us - may through our actions make ourselves safer or more vulnerable to crime, that is not even remotely the same thing as justifying assault."

Mr Ross said it "sickens and appals" him that people could now assume he blames rape victims or "belittle what they suffer".

"The opposite is true," he added.

"I sincerely believe the book raises powerful and important challenges to conventional thinking about crime - and those who have read the book have praised it. There may - and I'm sure will be - reasoned arguments against some of the things I say.

"But it is nothing like as simplistic, let alone objectionable, as some people would have you believe. This is a false storm.

"They say all publicity is good publicity. My reputation is far more important to me than selling a few more books."