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UK: Gay man cleared of sexual assault having touched female police officer’s bottom in gay bar

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  1. The woman was a total stranger to him, he didn’t even know she was an officer there on business, so his behaviour was totally inappropriate.

    1. I agree with you Eddy. His actions was not funny- gay or straight. In their jobs, women on our police force get seamy chirps from tools all the time. It was not a pat on the back to say you are doing a great job, it was a demeaning ass grab – an assault – even if it was to have a laugh and be a big drama queen in front of his friends. The psychological though process before assaulting or abuse someone means you see them as less important or less valuable than yourself, and thus, it is okay to do what you want without consideration for the other person.

      Given the common and seamy sexualisation of women in this country, he got off lightly. Keep your hands to yourself, unless ask and have expressed permission to do so. If he did the same to the wrong straight male cop performing his duty, he may have had the need for extensive dental work.

  2. His behaviour was inappropriate.

    However, as he apologised to her outside, I personally think that she should have issued him with a caution at most.

    To see this go through the courts is a waste of police and the courts time.

  3. Jock S. Trap 21 Jun 2013, 3:14pm

    Inappropriate behaviour? Indeed but being that he apologised I really think it was a waste of money to take this to court. I think a caution would have sufficed.

    I think this was more about power than anything else.

  4. No sympathy with the accused.

    1. He shouldn’t have done what he did.

    2. When he was arrested he denied the allegation and by doing so forfeited his right to a warning or a police caution.

    The police can only legally caution someone who agrees to be cautioned.

    Mr Walton denied the offence, thereby ruling out his eligibility for a police caution.

    1. I see also that he has a previous conviction for a Public Order Offence.

      The title of this article is also grossly misleading – Gay man cleared of Sexual assault.

      He wasn’t cleared by the court of Sexual assault, he admitted a lesser charge of common assault and was convicted of this.

      There’s a big difference between ‘cleared’ of a criminal offence as opposed to pleading guilty to a lesser one.

      I’m surprised at the support this character and I’m surprised that some contributors here who I’d normally agree with think it’s ok for a man to assault a female police officer who was had arrived at the pub to break up a fight.

      What a shame the accused hadn’t the bottle or bravery to break up the fight himself, instead getting in the way of a police officer who was simply doing her job.

      1. I think a lot of people think it absurd to call touching someone’s bottom an “assault”. If everyone who got their bottom touched in a pub went to law, the courts would have no time for any other business.

        1. It’s a sexual assault and quite rightly so.

          As an employer, I don’t go round touching my staff’s bottoms, if I did so, I’d quite rightly be before the courts.

          Were you as understanding when Cardinal O Brien was accused by his younger fellow clerics of touching their bottoms?

          I don’t think many were supportive of his similar activities.

          But take a young police officer called to deal with a pub fight, which is a pretty serious thing to have to do and she’s faced with a drunken man groping her backside and we all this crying foul as the idiot found himself nicked.

          I don’t think you or indeed anyone else know the full circumstances of what actually went on, but the facts of the matter are that the accussed – now standing as the convicted admitted to a criminal offence and was relieved that he wasn’t put before a jury for a more serious offence.

          That’s the facts.

          1. Well said.

            Expect to be thumbed down for not toeing the “party line” (which sickens me).

  5. “The court heard how he said he didn’t know she was a police officer at the time”

    So if she wasn’t a police officer, it would have been OK?

    1. Quite. He wouldn’t be the only gay man to think it ok to touch a woman
      – squeeze her arse, grab and rearrange her tits – and make derogatory comments about her appearance, justifying by saying there’s no sexual intent.

      1. True – Gay or straight, keep your bloody hands to yourself.

        Spoken as a woman who was sexually assaulted by a gay man at a gay bar who wanted to feel for himself if my tits were real (er..yes) and then laughed in my face when I protested, using the excuse that he was gay.

        In hindsight, and older and wiser, I should have pursued the matter.

        Get your hands OFF if not bloody invited. Why does that not compute?

        And I noticed Ali’s remark got thumbed down, would the snivelling cowardly whelps doing so care to explain why? What is actually informing your belief that his/her (let’s assume her, apologies if wrongly so) insistence on having bodily autonomy must be subverted to the whims of someone who wants to amuse themselves by grabbing hold?

  6. Although technically an assault, this is way over the top and a waste of public funds and prosecuting a gay man for sexual assault? Whats the matter with the Crown Prosecution service in the North of England. Wonder how they treat an actual sexual assault between two gay men.?
    Inapproproiate -Yes. The officers would not have known who it was,it would appear, if he had not apoligised.
    A stearn warning from her and her male collegue explaining the nature of the action and how it could be construed would have been more appropriate and not have wasted hundreds of pounds of public money and court time.
    If he was accused of a sexual assault and it wasnt (requires intent) Arse cheeks are also not a sexual organ, then of course he would deny it, as sexual assault is a far more serious offence and the Judge agreed.
    It would seem Middlesbrough (Cleveland Police) officers need a bit of common sense – and lack a sense of proportion.

    1. Erm. Are you sure about that statement regarding intent? I think that people need to be mindful that this is an open forum with no supporting information of credibility of posters (apologies, but I really think caution is advisable).

      Are you certain that common law cases do not define the touching as only requiring an intent to touch (instead of, say, a brushing against by accident) which the man certainly did seem to have.

      I also feel some concern of your defining of sexual as requiring sexual organs (genitals? what about breasts? whatever you keep in your underwear?). I am sure this is defined in case law but absolutely concede to layman status. The article reads as if test here (again, layman) comes down to whether the offender intended the touch to be sexual (no, he’s gay) rather than the bodily location of it.

      Honestly? I think it’s unwise to try to give this kind of definitive legal statement in this kind of forum.

      1. I did not say it wasn’t wrong, it is certainly assault, but whether it is always “Sexual Assault” is a different matter.
        I agree absolutely – some-one, any-one, running their hands over my breasts (and mine too are real) or slipping their hand between my thighs or coping a feel of my crotch – uninvited – is an all too common experience which has happened to me by straight and gay men and Is totally unacceptable behaviour and I don’t think anyone hopefully would regard this as anything other than a gross violation, if not invited.
        That is not what happened here. And I think we need to get a sense of proportion and perspective.
        Patting someone on the butt is not always a sexual act, the touching is required to be sexual according to the act you mention which was reflected in the article – it would appear from the article that the Judge accepted this was not sexual touching. It is not a wise thing to do but the circumstances do matter and he did get convicted of assault.

        1. Honestly, I cannot concur. For example – Someone (gender irrelevant) sitting beside you and putting their hand on your thigh – patting or stroking you there in the course of a conversation – is also potentially breaching the legislation. What do you think? Is that sexual or not? Given that there is an argument for the contact being deliberate is enough to fulfil intent (whether the touch is “sexual” or not may be subject to the old “reasonable man” standard?)

          How about rubbing the small of your back, a hand sliding round your waist to rub your flank or stroke your hip? Where is your comfort level? Where is mine?

          This is given that sexual assault is literally sexual “touching” w/out consent.

          The judge determined, from the read of the article, that it was not sexual touching because the offender was gay, not because touching the backside doesn’t count.

          1. I didnt say it doesnt count, If you read what I said implying there is doubt when some one touches someone when it is not genital, of course how this broadly drafted act is set out just about any area of the body could be considered sexual including your toenails, It is so widely drawn that most of the population should be serving time-

            {read section 78 ……. touching or any other activity is sexual if a reasonable person would consider that—
            (a)whatever its circumstances or any person’s purpose in relation to it, it is because of its nature sexual, or
            (b)because of its nature it may be sexual and because of its circumstances or the purpose of any person in relation to it (or both) it is sexual.] }

            -the only thing that prevents it is the mythical reasonable person AND whether the person making the complaint is not mad or vexatious or deluded or all three.
            (b) ….“purpose of any person in relation to it” sounds like INTENT-may be wrong
            IANAL never said I was. Discussion!

          2. Just for the record I know what an assault is, two years ago a 23 year old 6′ 3” heavily muscled man assaulted me (egged on by his girlfriend) with numerous threats to kill during the assault I was beaten around the head mainly and the upper body with defence wounds to the arms too, with a heavy wooden object which he eventually broke into 3 pieces across my shoulder blades while I was going down partly conscious. When I staggered to my feet very dazed I was thrown to the ground and he tried to strangle me. At which point his girlfriend realised he my actually kill me and dragged him off by the hair. He claimed self defence without a mark on him. He commenced the assault both verbally and physically I had lots of cuts and severe bruising. He got a warning. I had lots of discussions about all types of assaults by learned lawyers since that event including a prosecutor although he probably should not have been talking to me. A doctor remarked I was lucky to be alive. No IANAL

          3. http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/hemlington-man-touched-female-police-4694678

            A salutory tale, stupid thing to do certainly and most definately an assault, sexual assault – not in this case, but it could have gone the other way.
            Having been sexualy assaulted, quite a few years ago, now called rape. I never reported it, I dont regret that decision, and would make the same one today. I was not hurt physically but my dignity was and I was very indignant about it That is my choice.
            I take the matter very seriously.
            I think it is important not to trivialise the matter and be aware of the circumstances and possible non – sexual behaviour – not all percieved sexual assault is such even though it may at first appear to be so, some people see sex in everything it is not always the case – sometimes an assault is just that, an assault. Sometimes it isn’t.
            I will probably get villified for this but it is an honest opinion.

  7. So every time I get my bottom touched in a gay club and I don’t like it I can know get these men charged for assault. Interesting. I’m rich!

    1. The law is an arse ;) ass…..

    2. Yes of course you can! Or did you think anyone is allowed to touch anyone else anyway they like regardless of consent?

  8. You can go to prison for jokingly touching somebody’s bum? Good grief! A firm telling off would’ve sufficed. No wonder you never see a bobby on the beat – they’re all investigating pinched bottoms!

  9. Women have grabbed my bum in gay and straight bars before, I didn’t try to get them put in prison.

    What is wrong with women that they have become so petty and nasty about silly things, they think it is ok to touch us up because they feel safe but then someone grabs them, they get so offended that even an apology isn’t enough.

    Next time a women thinks its ok to grab you, just try and get an apology from her.

    I hate double standards.

  10. GulliverUK 21 Jun 2013, 5:12pm

    Don’t touch police officers bums !!!

    They lack any sense of humor – haven’t we learnt anything about the police from the behavior of Captain Mannering (a.k.a. Lord Dear ?

  11. Sister Mary Clarence 21 Jun 2013, 5:20pm

    What an utterly, totally disgraceful use of my taxes.

    Sweet Jesus have the police and the courts got nothing better to than to focus on trivia like this.

    I am staggered.

    As an avid watched of the numerous fly on the wall, camera in the back of a police car documentary series, nightly I watch drunks kicking, punching and abusing police officers, only to get arrested and given a night in the cells to sleep it off.

    Charges against them see to be few and far between, so WTF this is about I don’t understand.

    1. Couldnt be prejudice – could it?
      In a gay club – Nah surely not; by a police officer! Nah – never happens…..

  12. He apologised, that’s how civilised society resolves issues; hauling him in front of a judge is a complete waste of mine and everyone else’s taxes. It’s about time to judiciary and CPS are held to account with regard to the cases that are brought to court. Whilst this is a single incident, it’s a symptom of o much larger problem; namely that the police readily use all the powers at their disposal indiscriminately.

    1. Philip Breen 21 Jun 2013, 6:27pm

      I agree Dave. However, a society can’t be civilised when it has abolished forgiveness because forgiveness promotes a sense of proportion. Notice how with the new filtering regulations of the DBS, all of the old gay offences are on the list of offences that are so ‘serious’ they have to be disclosed. No attention is drawn to the tactics the police used-agents provocateurs etc- to entrap gay men. Those contexts, like that of that woman, were not good use of police time, but easy ways of establishing convictions. Nobody is suggesting that the behaviour of this person towards the female police officer was any more appropriate than many of the contexts for gay arrests, but these are not good uses of police time when burglars, violent offences and other really important crimes are left undetected. However, the only thing that matters nowadays, is what procedures call ‘good practice’, sadly.

  13. Assault my arse! Ironically, it was his apology that got him into trouble. Police officers should be made of stronger stuff. He was silly to touch her bum but the police and courts are ridiculous in this case. The police have historically treated Gay men with contempt and often violence.

    1. The police have historically treated Gay men with contempt…..

      Some of them still do, even some of their own …. note the recent Met case where a bi-racial gay officer in the terrorist group was abused because of his sexuality and his race.
      I lived briefly in Middlesbrough, Cleveland Police do not have the best of reputations. Now if this happened in Newcastle I’d be most surprised.
      The fact that this was ever charged as a “sexual assault” shows lack of perspective by the chain of management within Cleveland Police and a total lack of rigour on behalf of the CPS.
      It also devalues “sexual assault” as a crime.

  14. I don’t know why half the commenters here are so up in arms about this. What this man did, sexual intent or not, was very much wrong. As a woman who’s more vulnerable than most due to my disabilities, if a stranger touches me like that, they’re an immediate potential threat, I can’t have any idea what their intent is.

    The guy didn’t even “go to prison” as some of the more hysterical commenters are claiming – he got an entirely appropriate 18 month “conditional discharge”, meaning no prison time, and as long as he doesn’t repeat such behaviour in the next 18 months he’ll avoid any legal punishment at all. I’m really surprised, I thought the average commenter on here was a bit more sensible and sensitive than this.

    1. As a woman I have to disagree, this was totally over the top and devalues the term sexual assault which I regard as a serious matter, it was quite appropriate to class this as an common assault and the sentence was perhaps? appropriate – but it was not proceeded as such and given the circumstances and the contriteness of the offender (the very fact of his apology was what brought him to the attention of the officer) is a flagrant waste of Police time, Public money and Court resources when the matter could have been dealt with by a severely delivered warning.
      If the “assault” had happened to a male officer in plain clothes in similar circumstances (remember this was in a gay club) would this have proceed in the same way?
      If someone is prosecuted for a sexual assault (A very serious matter which can result the offender being put on the sex offenders register) then it devalues the offence when used in this way.
      There is also the suspicion lingering of bias in how it was dealt with.

      1. But “sexual assault” is defined in the 2003 statute – It’s not about what you personally consider serious enough to count, but what is actually within the scope of the legislation.

        And, as a woman, I am uncomfy with the concept of fronting up to anyone (gender irrelevant after all in this offence) and tell them that it just wasn’t serious enough to count – that is up to them, with their choice to go forward with an complaint or not.

      2. they knew it was one of three, they could have easily arrested all three of them.

  15. Yes what he did was wrong, and a massive waste of our money, but if any of you have been into any gay or straight bars it happens all the time, by both sex’s to both sex’s and no one batters an eye,
    Not knowing she was a copper, these days is very easy to miss, because the uniform is too relaxed and in the darkness of a nightclub,
    what no one has caught out on is the comment by the judge…
    Judge Simon Bourne-Arton QC, the Recorder of Middlesbrough, told Walton: “There’s a police officer going about her job, and it’s a difficult enough job as it is without people like you making it harder.”
    “people like you” in other words, looks to me like the judge, the prosecution, the 2 police officers and the desk sergeant are all homophobic!!!!

    1. I am almost certain the “people like you” was meaning to reference a general civilian, rather than a homosexual.

  16. If I had a £ for every time I had my arse pinched in a Gay Bar I would be a rich man…. what is this prim and proper world coming to… it was a joke… he apologised… a smack on the wrist should have been enough

  17. I am completely surprised at the number on this sight that think this action is okay. The seamy actions of this knob to abuse a complete stranger performing her job was completely wrong. Anyone that blames the cop for this is no worst than the abuser himself. Think a bit deeper than the surface.

    1. Gay or straight, men are raised within the same patriarchal environment that tends to (but not always) subvert female bodily autonomy to masculine whims.

      Doesn’t surprise me in the slightest to see the defence of “it happens to me, put up with it” mentioned over and over. It really is not OK , it’s victim blaming. No one has to put up with unwanted contact that way – whatever gender or orientation you are.

      Perhaps guys are more blase because they don’t spend their life from puberty onwards on alert to avoid unwanted contact.

      And perhaps a lot of guys really do not like it and would prefer it to not be culturally acceptable in the scene environment?

  18. If touching someone’s buttocks is sexual assault, I seriously need to watch much more American sports as the athletes smack each other’s bottoms. It’s nearly as good as watching two Russian athletes kiss. Why pay to watch flabby porn stars when you can watch athletes doing it in public for free. (FYI: American football has positions called “tight ends” and “wide receivers”.)

    Let me be clear: I am entirely against unsolicited sexual touching, but being in a bar, where the average sober citizen would expect to experience the patrons to have lowered inhibitions, including a Gay man touching a woman’s bottom in jest.

    You can’t walk into a public swimming pool and arrest people if you get splashed with water. …unless you get splashed sexually.

  19. http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/p_to_r/rape_and_sexual_offences/soa_2003_and_soa_1956/#a01

    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/42/part/1?view=extent

    http://www.e-lawresources.co.uk/R-v-Heard.php

    IANAL If you need legal advice seek out a lawyer.
    This article has generated a lot of heat and some light and lots of emotion and a lot of comment, mine is of no more of import than anyone elses, please do not rely on any thing said as the definative seek advice.
    Please treat others with courtesy and respect their boundries, they may not be the same as yours and stay safe.
    Take care.
    Bye

  20. Just because your gay doesn’t give you the right to touch a female!

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