British Woman Raising Money Online To Prosecute Her Rapist

A woman in the U.K. is asking for money from strangers online to do what the criminal justice system won't—put her rapist in jail.

Emily Hunt, a 38-year-old strategy consultant based in London, turned to the crowdfunding platform GoFundMe to privately prosecute her rape case after the Crown Prosecution Services dropped the case for lack of evidence. As of Tuesday afternoon, Hunt has raised over $18,000 in about two weeks.

In the U.K., complainants can finance private prosecutions, which can lead to the same type of legal action against alleged criminals—which means Hunt's alleged rapist would face jail time if convicted. 

If Hunt is successful in prosecuting her case, it'll be the first time someone in the U.K. has used her rights to a private prosecution to convict a rapist—but Hunt hopes it's not the last. After bringing her own alleged attacker to justice, she plans on setting up a charity to help other people fund private prosecutions for rape cases.

Hunt reported her rape in 2015, when she said she woke up "naked and terrified" in a hotel bed beside a strange man. "I suspected that I had been drugged," Hunt wrote in the description on her GoFundMe page. "And as I found out later, I had been raped." 

She told Vice's website Broadly that she'd immediately gone to the bathroom to call a friend, who contacted the police for her. When authorities arrived, they arrested the man, whom she later found out she'd met in a bar earlier that day. Because Hunt has no memory of meeting him, she believes he slipped a date rape drug in her drink, though a toxicology report showed no signs of any drugs in her system, though Hunt believes the test was conducted too late.

Hunt says other evidence would corroborate her version of the event, including footage from that night drunk that shows her "falling all over the place" while the man appeared to be "stone cold sober." She also claimed police found a minute-long video on her alleged attacker's of her passed out naked.

But Hunt says authorities dismissed the footage—and, ultimately, the case—because a portion of the video shows her flirting and holding hands with the man. 

"A lot of things went wrong," she told Broadly. "I fell through every crack there was in the system."

A Metropolitan Police spokesperson told the website that the police force would always "provide full support to anyone who reports a serious sexual offence (sic)."

"We would urge anyone who has been a victim ... to report the matter to the police—we are here to fully investigate, listen to and support you," the statement continued.

Newsweek reached out to prosecutors and hasn't heard back. 

The number of reported rapes in England and Wales has dramatically risen recently, doubling from 2012 to 2016. The number of people who have been convicted for those alleged rapes, however, has fallen. 

"Groups representing victims have expressed concern that the longer it takes for a case to go to court, the harder it becomes for the victim to give evidence," the report, conducted by the body responsibly for overseeing the U.K.'s police force, wrote. "Timing is crucial and delays may have a detrimental psychological impact on victims."

The outlook isn't much better for sexual assault victims in the United States, where 1 in 6 women report having been victims of attempted or completed rape at some point in their lifetime. For every 1,000 alleged rapes, 994 alleged rapists will walk free

Often, investigators say they drop rape cases like Hunt's because the cases suffer from the "he said/she said" problem. But it's also a Catch-22.

"If I don't go looking for evidence I'll never find it," one detective told researchers who conducted a study on rape investigations in 2015. "Most of the time, there is something else that can be done."