Manchester, UK- Looks pretty innocuous, right? But this convicted sexual predator is guilty of assaulting two women through an elaborate scam. In one case he violently forced her. In another, he used a blindfold to trick her. His means of contact? Plenty of Fish which ranks highest on my list of e-dating sites for sex crime offenders.
Devereux hooked his targets by assuming the name “Dean,” posting an attractive profile, and grooming them to desire him over several months. Then he proceeded to convince them to have sex with his terminally ill friend “Rob” before meeting him. He also threatened to post intimate photos of one of the women on the internet.
Sexual Offense Prosecutor, Martin McRobb, explained Devereux’s method:
“Devereux worked on the emotions of these women over a long period of time, enticing them with a persuasive but utterly fake persona until they were desperate to meet him.”
“The decision making on this case was complex as on the face of it the women had consented to have sexual relations.” But, “this was not true consent as in the case of one victim she would not have submitted to sexual activity had she not been the victim of blackmail.”
McRobb’s understanding is on target in most aspects, but his terminology is flawed. He should watch my TEDxTalk! If we could straighten out society’s understanding, and enact the actual meaning of consent in our laws, his error would be visible to both McRobb and society.
“As on the face of it, the women had consented” is an oxymoron. Consent is freely given, knowledgeable and informed agreement. “Agreement on the face of it,” is “assent,” not “consent.” They are both forms of agreement. But consent, not assent, is required for sex.
McRobb should have stated: “On the face of it, the women had agreed, but agreeing on the face of it is assent, not consent. Consent is required in sexual conduct. The victim did not consent.”
In the instance where a victim was threatened, such as by threatening to disclose intimate photos, that victim would be “acquiescing,” agreeing under duress. Agreeing under duress is not “freely giving agreement,” therefore, it is not consent.
Kudos to Prosecutor McRobb for successfully locking up a sexual predator. He was absolutely correct when he said:
“The effects upon Devereux’s victims are life-long and catastrophic. Their self-confidence and desire to find a meaningful relationship may never return.”