How A 'Half-A-Second' Sex Assault Charge Ruined A Man's Life

Publish Date
Thursday, 11 February 2016, 3:09PM

Walking through a busy train station in the UK, 51-year-old Mark Pearson's life changed forever when he brushed past a woman.

He was carrying a newspaper in his left hand and the strap of his backpack in his right hand. His shoulder collided briefly with a woman walking in the opposite direction. Footage showed he never broke stride.

Later, the woman, an actress on her way to a rehearsal, told police Mr Pearson sexually assaulted her. She offered details of how he "penetrated her" on the concourse of Waterloo Station despite the fact she was wearing "training pants" under a dress.

Mr Pearson said the case against him was "preposterous", but still his name was dragged through the mud. For a year he defended himself in court and out of court. When he explained to people that it never happened like his accused said it did, he knew people were thinking: "Of course you would say that".

After 90 minutes, a jury found Mr Pearson not guilty.

"Anybody who has seen the CCTV images knows that I couldn't possibly have done it," Mr Pearson said.

"It is against everything I believe in as a human being. I did nothing. I would have had to crouch down, put my hand up the woman's skirt ... penetrate her, take my hand out again ... all while holding the newspaper and walking along the concourse."

He says he now suffers from anxiety.

"For me, half a second turned into a year of hell. I feel I have undergone a form of mental torture sanctioned by the state."

There was no forensic evidence supporting the woman's claims. 

Mr Pearson's wife Carol said she knew all along that her husband was innocent, incapable of doing what he was accused of doing. On social media, users demanded the name of Mr Pearson's accuser be made as public as his.

A spokesman for CPS stood by the case against Mr Pearson.

"There was sufficient evidence for this case to proceed to court and progress to trial. We respect the decision of the jury."

Read more at NZHerald.co.nz