Ched Evans says he is 'innocent' of rape, but that cheating on his girlfriend was 'unforgivable'

The former Sheffield United footballer was freed from prison last week

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The Independent Online

Ched Evans still claims that he is innocent of rape, despite having served a prison sentence for the crime, and describes cheating on his girlfriend with the victim as “unforgiveable”.

The former Sheffield United player has consistently claimed that sex between he and the woman was consensual. His girlfriend, Natasha Massey, has defended him throughout.

The Criminal Cases Review Commission, the watchdog which investigates possible miscarriages of justice, has said it is fast-tracking an application by Evans to review his conviction.

He was sentenced to five years in jail in 2012 for the rape of an inebriated 19-year-old woman in a hotel room in 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 was freed from prison on Friday after serving half his sentence. He will make a “personal and profound” video statement next week.

In an interview conducted 18 months ago while still in prison, the footballer told The Mirror on Sunday that although he “regrets everything” and wishes he could “turn back the clock”, he believes that the anonymous woman was “definitely up for it”.

“I most certainly didn’t rape anyone,” he said, commenting that he is still “ashamed” of his actions.

He admits that he thought that the case “would have been thrown out of court” and was “stunned” when he was convicted because he said that “had done nothing wrong”.

Evans added that he was “lucky” to have had the support of his girlfriend, who helped him cope.

“It was something that should never have happened,” he said. “And it is something that I will regret for the rest of my life. I cheated on my girlfriend and had sex with this girl – but it was definitely consensual.”

There has much been much debate over whether Evans should be reinstated at Sheffield United, with a petition launched campaigning against his return, although the club itself is yet to make a decision.

Evans’ family have criticised both the “sensationalist” media and charity Rape Crisis for their handling of the case.

The footballer’s relatives claim that they contacted the charity in order to raise awareness for sexual consent issues, but had no response – allegations the organisation denies.

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.