October 23, 2016

Student ‘groped girl during a heated debate about politics’, court hears

THE secretary of a university debating society accused of rape groped a student during a heated political discussion, a court heard yesterday.

After being told his alleged victim was upset by his behaviour, Louis Richardson, 21, wrote on Facebook: “I must apologise profusely to all parties concerned.”

The girl was at a party at the home of fellow Durham University student Daniel Pryor when she felt unwell and went for a lie down in the host’s bedroom, Durham Crown Court heard.

The room later filled with male students, including “moderately drunk” Richardson, who began discussing politics and making insulting remarks about northerners.

The court heard that when Mr Pryor entered the room at about 11pm, Richardson was sitting on the bed continuing the “heated debate” with his hand under the sheets.

Mr Pryor said the female student shot him a look of distress.

He added: “She mentioned that my friend was being creepy. I asked what she meant, what was up, and she said she would tell me later.”

She subsequently told Mr Pryor that Richardson had squeezed her breast and slid his hand into her leggings, stroking her intimately over her underwear.

The jury heard that she asked him to try to contact Richardson for him to apologise.

A week later he responded on Facebook.

After consulting the girl, Mr Pryor replied: “Thanks, mate. She accepts what you said and the matter is now closed.”

But on hearing that Richardson had been accused of raping another girl, she contacted police.

Richardson told officers he would never take advantage of a drunken woman because of his “moral code”.

He added: “I have a lot of respect for women.”

Richardson, from St Helier, Jersey, denies rape and indecent assault.

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