Ched Evans family attacks charity Rape Crisis and media coverage over 'role model' son

The footballer was freed from prison today after serving half his sentence

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The Independent Online

The family of Ched Evans have criticised charity Rape Crisis and the media over their handling of Ched Evans’ rape conviction.

The former Sheffield United player was freed from prison this morning, having served half of his five-year sentence.

Relatives and the girlfriend of the former footballer have decided that they will conduct no further interviews with the “sensationalist” media who “only focus on the return to football question which is one the family have no control over”.

They accused the media of editing interviews to “satisfy an agenda”.

Evans’ family have consistently argued that he was wrongly convicted of rape.

Evans, 25, was sentenced to five years in prison in 2012, after raping an inebriated 19-year-old woman in a hotel room in north Wales. His friend and fellow footballer, Clayton McDonald, was cleared of the same charge.

The woman said throughout the trial that she had no memory of the incident. Evans maintains his innocence, claiming that the sex was consensual.

In a statement published on the footballer’s website, the family claimed that they had attempted to communicate with charity Rape Crisis to address and help raise awareness about “the issue of consent”, but had received no response.

The statement added that despite the family’s repeated attempts at communication, Rape Crisis were “still very vocal” about Evans’ future and return to Sheffield United – “which goes against the bedrock of a civilised society”.

Rape Crisis told The Independent that it "hasn't received any communication from any member of Ched Evans' family".

"If we had though, I'm not sure that it would be appropriate for us to engage with the supporters of a convicted rapist," a spokesperson for the charity said, adding that it had not "sought to deny Ched Evans' right to return to employment".

"Collaborations with sexual violence perpetrators don't fit within our remit as a charity and could easily be interpreted as detrimental to the interests of our primary beneficiaries," continued the spokesperson, noting that the charity's work includes educating "the public about the meaning of consent and to dispel harmful myths and stereotypes".

"For example, we educate young people in particular that consent should be an enthusiastic 'yes', not just the absence of an audible 'no'." A petition urging Sheffield United to prevent Evans from returning to the club has been signed by nearly 150,000 people – who are “entitled to their opinion but many have no idea of the facts of the case”, according to the statement.

Nick Clegg – an MP for Sheffield Hallam – told LBC Radio that the club would need to think “really long and hard” about whether to reinstate Evans, arguing that “when you take a footballer on, you are not taking just a footballer these days, you are also taking on a role model” and that Evans had committed “a very serious crime”.

In August, the family issued a statement in which it discussed Evans’ position as a “role model”.

“Ched believes in his fight for Justice, believes in fighting for what he knows is right, has been incredibly disciplined to maintain his fitness and has learnt from this whole incident, isn’t that part of being a role model?” it asked.

Sheffield United has refused to say whether they will allow Evans to play again.

Manager Nigel Clough has said: “We have had one or two discussions, we are awaiting a decision and the owners will make that in good time.”