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‘Were you saying no but not meaning no?’: On the tactics of Scott Kuggeleijn’s lawyer

Regardless of today’s verdict, the assumptions made and line of questioning pursued by Kuggeleijn’s lawyer Philip Morgan over the course of two trials were extremely troubling, writes Madeleine Chapman.

A jury of six men and six women has found Scott Kuggeleijn not guilty of raping a woman in May 2015.

Many have expressed relief at the verdict while many others consider it yet another instance of the justice system failing victims of sexual abuse. I wasn’t at the trial, I didn’t see the evidence presented, and therefore cannot comment on the verdict. But what I can do is read. And vomit a little in my mouth at the same time.

Because whether you agree with the verdict or not, it’s undeniable that Kuggeleijn’s lawyer, Philip Morgan, said some unbelievably disturbing things.

Below, a selection of his statements, as quoted in media coverage of the two trials Kuggeleijn has faced. Put on an oxygen mask, grab the nearest contraceptive, and let’s begin.

“Did you mean ‘No, not now’, as if you did not mean it?”

This was asked of the complainant in regard to her use of the word “no”.

“Were you saying ‘no’ but not meaning ‘no’?”

Morgan persistently asked similar questions to which the woman responded negatively. So much “no”, apparently so little clarity…

“Did you not recognise that telling him you were on the pill in those circumstances was you telling him you wanted to have sex with him?’

Wait, what? There’s a connection between the pill and sex but there’s also a huge gap between being on the pill and wanting to have sex right now. Me wearing a helmet when I ride my bike doesn’t mean I plan to crash every day. And me telling someone I have health insurance doesn’t give them permission to punch me in the face, no matter how annoying I’ve been.

“Did you mean ‘No, not now’, as if you did not mean it?” Hamilton District Court yesterday.

“I suggest if I said to you that 100 men who have been in that situation and tried again you would have a forest of hands. There’s nothing horrible about that, it’s just a reflection of life and really what was Scott Kuggeleijn other than one of these men.”

A very normal, not all broad stroke, statement to the jury. A man on trial for rape is “just one of these men”. Just a normal lad. Any normal man would’ve done the same thing. Grim, scary, and hopefully very wrong.

“She couldn’t turn this man down yet again because she would then be thought of as a bitch or a tease.”

Here, Morgan very helpfully presents the inner workings of the young woman’s mind while also insinuating that she wanted to turn him down, but she couldn’t. Let’s just repeat that as a lesson of modern life for young women: “You couldn’t turn this man down yet again because you would then be thought of as a bitch or a tease.”

Scott Kuggeleijn’s lawyer Philip Morgan. Photo: Getty Images

“My client respected the complainant’s wishes at night when he could’ve had her so easily when she was drunk.”

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. This is a truly depressing sentence to be presented to the jury of a rape trial during closing arguments. It is hard not to read the message here as being that the man could so easily have raped the woman when she was drunk the night before but, oh my gosh, plot twist, he didn’t. I assume after Morgan said this, confetti was shot out across the courtroom and everyone starting singing “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow”.

“That’s not the behaviour of a rapist, is it?”

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

This kind of logic belongs in the same circle as people who say they have brown friends so can’t be racist.

“I have heaps of brown friends”, “my cousin is gay”, and “I didn’t rape her the night before”.

Now, let me be clear, I have no idea what verdict I would have supported had I been part of the jury. And given his extensive experience and eventual success in this case, I can only assume that Philip Morgan is a good lawyer. But the statements he made throughout the case framed men, women and interactions between the two in a way which was both antiquated and dangerous.


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