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12-year-old rape victim pens emotional letter after her attacker walks free

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In March this year, Daniel Cieslak pleaded guilty to the rape of a 12-year-old girl at a house party in Edinburgh. However he was controversially granted an absolute discharge in what the judge described as “wholly exceptional” circumstances at Glasgow high court.

After hearing that Cieslak believed the victim to be over the age of 16, the judge, Lady Maggie Scott, ruled that the victim was a ’willingly participant’ in the sex and that “she had no concerns and there was no suggestion of her being distressed”.

Scott added that she did not believe there was “any need for, or public interest in, punishment.”

However the victim – who maintains that Cieslak had sex with her while she was unconscious on a couch after drinking vodka and cherry cola during a night out with her 13-year-old friend – has now hit back against the ruling.


Read more: Lena Dunham and cast of Girls support Stanford rape survivor in powerful new video


In an emotional letter published by the Daily Record, the schoolgirl – known only as ‘Catherine’ – says: “The guy said he didn’t know my age. I can barely remember that night.”

She continues: “I had passed out in the living room then I remember him picking me up, and then wakening up in a bed.

“It was said that I consented but how can someone consent when they can’t even talk?”

Scott said that she did not believe there was “any need for, or public interest in, punishment.”

Scott said that she did not believe there was “any need for, or public interest in, punishment.”

The victim, now 14, says she used to be a happy and confident schoolgirl. Now, though, she suffers from anxiety, panic attacks, and depression. She has struggled at school, and takes tablets to help her get to sleep following the rape.

“I even tried to commit suicide because I was barely holding it together,” she writes.

‘Catherine’ goes on to say that she had celebrated with her family when Cieslak pleaded guilty to the rape of a girl under the age of 13.

“Then he walked free,” she says. “I was devastated.”


Read more: Lucy Mangan: “Why do rape victims still get a raw deal?”


Cieslak met the victim and her friend in a taxi queue after a night out in Edinburgh in the summer of 2015. The (then) 19-year-old then went back to a party with them, thinking that they were 16 and 17, a statement on the Judiciary of Scotland website said.

Speaking in court, Scott said the university student “understood from chat in the taxi that the victim was 16 years old and her friend was 17 years old. The taxi driver had the impression that the victim was about 20 years old.

“Once at the flat, after some time, you [Cieslak] paired off and you and the victim engaged in sexual intercourse.

“She left the next morning. She had no concerns and there was no suggestion of her being distressed.”

Cieslak met the victim and her friend in a taxi queue after a night out in Edinburgh in the summer of 2015

Cieslak met the victim and her friend in a taxi queue after a night out in Edinburgh in the summer of 2015

Taking into account that all witnesses on the night thought the victim was over 16, that Cieslak was told she was 16 and with no signs of distress, Scott ruled: “Your criminal culpability here is wholly restricted to the application of strict liability within this offence.

“That is in marked distinction to other reported cases under this statutory provision, which have involved conduct involving assault or recklessness or force, or the absence of consent or have resulted in distress to the victim – all of which are factors which raise the need for punishment.

“In addition, there is no suggestion here of predatory conduct or grooming or manipulation or deception.

“I do not consider there is any need for, or public interest in, punishment. To do so would in my view be disproportionate given the nature of the criminal culpability here.

“Nor do I consider there is any basis for, or real public interest in, requiring your notification under the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

“Considering all of these factors I have reached the conclusion that justice is best served in this case by taking the wholly exceptional decision not to sentence you and instead I discharge you absolutely.

“As a result, the requirement of any notification does not arise under the relevant statutory provisions.”


Read more: Lucy Mangan: “Why do rape victims still get a raw deal?”


The victim’s mother, though, has slammed the ruling, insisting: “Daniel Cieslak never asked her what age she was. But it doesn’t matter what age she looked.

“I don’t know if she looked older than she was and she shouldn’t have been out at that time. But what happened to her wasn’t consensual.

“Catherine passed out over a coffee table. He lifted her off the floor on to a sofa and raped her. A 12-year-old girl.”

She added: “I asked her how many times she said no and she said, ‘Mum, I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t move my body.’”

The ruling was passed at Glasgow High Court

The ruling was passed at Glasgow High Court

A spokeswoman for Rape Crisis declined to comment on the case, but told the Guardian: “A 12-year-old child does not legally have the capacity to give their consent and sexual activity with them is always therefore a sexual offence.”

She added: “It’s any adult’s legal and moral responsibility to actively seek and be sure they have received the other person’s consent for any and all sexual activity with them. 

“This includes making sure that that person has the freedom and capacity to give their consent. For example, if someone is unsure as to whether the person they’re with is too drunk to freely consent, they should not have sex with them.”

Images: iStock

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