Warning: This article deals with an account of rape/sexual assault and may be triggering for survivors of abuse.
1. “I had to drink through a straw.” Woman raped by Australian cricketer Alex Hepburn suffered face paralysis after the attack.
The victim of Australian cricketer Alex Hepburn has revealed the trauma of him orally raping her triggered a medical condition that left her face frozen.
The university graduate was left with a paralysed face after Hepburn attacked her as part of a ‘sex conquest’ game he set up on WhatsApp with his cricketing teammates.
In April, the ex-Worcestershire county player was found guilty of one count of oral rape at the Worcester Crown Court in the UK, following a retrial. A jury found the 23-year-old had raped a sleeping woman at a party in April 2017, but cleared him of a second count of rape involving the same victim.
He has been sentenced to five years prison, but is appealing his conviction.
The victim was required to give evidence twice after a jury failed to reach a verdict at a trial earlier this year. She said the process has torn her life apart.
“I had thought this was all going to be over in January, then April, and now there’s more uncertainty that it isn’t the end,” she told The Mirror.
“It was said in court he’d shown remorse. Now he’s appealing. It just shows how arrogant he is.”
She blasted the court process that allowed jurors to hear “glowing” character references for Hepburn, while she was labelled as “easy”.
The trauma of the rape and the subsequent trials had left her with PTSD, and four months after the attack she was rushed to hospital with a suspected stroke, after the left side of her face dropped and froze.
Doctors said she had Bell’s Palsy, a sudden weakness or paralysis of one side of the face often brought on by stress.
“I was at my aunty’s house and thought ‘I can’t smile’. As the day went on my eye drooped and the side of my face froze. It took months to go back to normal. I had to drink through a straw. It stopped me working. I didn’t want to leave home.”
She also lost weight, suffered from debilitating panic attacks, and endured nightmares after the April 1, 2017, rape.
The woman had consensual sex with Hepburn’s then-teammate, Joe Clarke, earlier in the evening before falling asleep.
Clarke had passed out in the bathroom after the encounter. The woman later woke to find a man, whom she believed to be Clarke, engaging in a sex act with her in the dimly lit room. She only realised it was Hepburn when he spoke in an Australian accent.
She pushed him off and asked where Clarke was while Hepburn was “pawing” at her legs. She ran to a bathroom, locked herself in and phoned a male friend who said he would come pick her up.