22/04/2012 19:02 BST | Updated 22/06/2012 10:12 BST

Ched Evans Rape Conviction: Police Investigate Abuse Of Victim On Twitter

Police are investigating reports that the woman raped by footballer Ched Evans was being named and abused on a social networking site.

It follows a complaint to North Wales Police by a leading rape charity which said the alleged comments on Twitter were "profoundly disturbing".

Sheffield United and Wales striker Evans, 23, was jailed for five years at Caernarfon Crown Court on Friday after being found guilty of raping the woman who was "too drunk to consent".

Vivienne Hayes, Chief Executive of the Women's Resource Centre told The Huffington Post UK she was "appalled that a woman who suffered such a horrific crime has had her name published on social media sites and smeared in such a repulsive manner.

"Rape is a serious crime with severe consequences for the victim, for this to happen is akin to being attacked all over again.

"Rape convictions in this country are far too low, and what women will want to come forward if this is the fate they will suffer?”

A spokeswoman for North Wales Police said tonight: "We are aware of some comments made on social media sites and we are collating all relevant information."

Rape and other sexual assault victims are guaranteed the legal right to lifetime anonymity.

But victims' groups fear the current criminal justice rules could be inadequate to guarantee anonymity in the age of social media.

And the latest revelations would add credence to the argument that the law needs updating to prevent victims being identified on the internet.

The punishment for the offence is a maximum fine of £5000, under Sec 1 of the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992. The crimes would only be heard at magistrates’ court.

Holly Dustin, director of the End Violence Against Women coalition, and Rape Crisis England and Wales, said: "It is profoundly disturbing that the victim in the Ched Evans trial has been named and abused on Twitter and other social media sites.

"It has long been law that rape complainants are protected by lifetime anonymity and those who have named her have been reported to the police for committing a criminal offence.

"This raises serious questions about the adequacy of the criminal justice system to deal with offences that occur online and we are calling for an urgent review of laws and practices."

Evans admitted having sex with the victim, then aged 19, at a hotel in north Wales last May.

In her evidence, the woman said she has no memory of the incident and the prosecution argued she was too drunk to consent to sexual intercourse.

Evans' co-accused, Port Vale defender Clayton McDonald, 23, who also admitted having sex with the victim, was found not guilty.

Dustin added: "We want to see football clubs and the Football Association take a strong stance against sexism in the sport.

"We also want the government to take concerted action to address attitudes that condone violence.

"This must include ongoing public campaigns to challenge rape myths, work with young people in schools as well as action to tackle sexism online and in our daily newspapers.

"We cannot afford to shrug our shoulders any longer and hope that this problem will go away."

DCI Steve Williams of the North Wales Police said “I would advise people who post such status and tweets to consider the implications of their action and those who add comments to appreciate that they may be condoning such behaviour and contributing to the continued trauma upon this young woman.“