When Luke Lazurus was acquitted of sexual assault this week there were no winners.
While he and his family were finally given a reprieve after four years of fighting rape allegations, a young man’s life will likely be overshadowed by these events for many years to come.
Meanwhile, a young woman was left feeling violated and robbed of her right to justice.
Mr Lazarus was accused of raping the then 18-year-old woman in an alleyway behind his father’s nightclub in Kings Cross in Sydney.
The judge described it as a quick and unromantic encounter, that probably would not have happened without the influence of alcohol.
This was the second time Mr Lazarus had been tried for the offence. The original guilty verdict was overturned at appeal, after it was found the first judge had misdirected the jury.
So for a second time, Mr Lazarus, the woman and their families, had to relive in extreme detail the awkward, unromantic sex they had together.
In the end, he was acquitted of the sexual assault.
Judge Robyn Tupman said it had been proved beyond reasonable doubt that while the young woman had not in her own mind consented, Mr Lazarus had a “genuine and honest” belief she was consenting.
“These things are really difficult because the prosecution has to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt that the person accused of the crime actually knew that the woman wasn’t consenting … or that they were reckless,” explained Law Society of New South Wales president Pauline Wright.
“That’s a pretty high test … it’s about proving the person failed to properly consider at all that she was properly consenting or if they realised it was possible they weren’t consenting.
“There’s no reflection on the woman at all, this is purely about the state of mind of the person accused.
“If [the man] thought there was genuine consent then they didn’t commit a crime.”
Assume nothing when it comes to consent
This assumption of consent is everything that is wrong with the conversation we, as young people, have about sex.
Most young people, both male and female, would have a story of a time they engaged in a sexual act they did not feel entirely comfortable with.