Jeremy Forrest is serving a prison sentence and suffering vilification comparable to characters who have actually killed someone, for example dangerous drivers, violent criminals or drug-pushers, while his sentence of five-and-a-half years is more than double that of many of the above.
The ‘We Support JF’ group does not condone teachers’ sexual involvement with their students and it is right that he should be sacked, but the weight of criminalisation he has received is out of all proportion to his offence.
Those who label him a paedophile are incorrect by definition as he has had no interest in a pre-teen child and moreover they are belittling the suffering of victims of real paedophiles by comparing the experiences of those people to what was in this case a genuine, loving and consensual relationship.
Our press and legal system have failed to distinguish the nuances of this case and by labelling JF a child abuser they are doing us all a disservice – especially the young people they are seeking to protect.
The age of consent has to be drawn somewhere, but does one year really make the difference between a ‘pervert’ and an ordinary man. Between a normal relationship and child abuse?
The young woman (now legal age) insists that she is no victim, yet by applying the law in such a heavy-handed way the court has made a mockery of its true intention of protecting young people from being coerced or pressured into sexual encounters that they don’t want.
PHILIP FAWCETT and MARY STRICKLAND on behalf of The Friends of
The Valley, Comberton, Cambridge.