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The disgrace of a Facebook rape defense

A lawyer has claimed that a rape victim did not suffer trauma because her Facebook page featured pictures of her at a party.

Lawyers don't always enjoy the finest of reputations.

Some are unquestionably sleazy. But perhaps you will find your own inventive adjective for a lawyer named Colin McCarraher.

Last week, Mr. McCarraher defended a man called Anthony Francis in Reading, England. Mr Francis was this year stopped on another matter and then subsequently charged with raping a 19-year-old woman in 2001 after police managed to match his DNA sample with that of her attacker.

Mr. McCarraher defended his client by revealing his ingenious trump card- the victim's Facebook page.

On that page was a picture of her at a fancy dress party. She was smiling.

Here are some of the lawyer's touching words in describing the victim: "What we have is a person who has post traumatic stress but is quite capable of going out and having a good time at a fancy dress party."

Perhaps you might decide that what we really have is a lawyer who might deserve to be sent to a facility where the only parties are fancy undress.

Mr. McCarraher's supposedly devastating revelation suggested, at least in his eyes, that the victim suffered little trauma. However, he also admitted that he had no idea when the picture had actually been taken. He simply declared that the images were inconsistent with someone struggling to rebuild her life.

A peculiar argument, given that the victim, having been a perfectly happy woman before the alleged rape, had tried to commit suicide in 2003. In fact, it is only in the last year that she has managed to find some way to move her life to a more positive footing.

Still, what did that matter when compared to the smiling picture on her Facebook page?

Those in positions of authority have come to believe that one of the best ways to discover incriminating evidence about other people is to sneak off to their Facebook profiles.

They draw rich conclusions from the pictures they see or the words they read. Then they try and use those conclusions to damn those who choose (sometimes, perhaps, unwisely) to make a small part of their lives public.

In this case, Mr. McCarraher's lazy and sickening ingenuity failed to impress the judge. Mr. Francis was sentenced to five and a half years in jail.

After his sterling and noble work on behalf of his client Mr. McCarraher has, strangely, refused to make public comment.

Perhaps he has already sold the full story of his genius to a national newspaper or a Hollywood producer.

Or perhaps he's just suffering post-traumatic stress after such a difficult trial.