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Should accused rapists stay anonymous till conviction? Chair of UK bar council backs idea

Posted Feb 21, 2013 8:29 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The chair of the Bar Council of England and Wales is proposing an idea to protect accused rapists from the stigma of the allegations: Keep their identities secret until proven guilty.

Maura McGowan made the suggestion during an interview with BBC Radio 5. The BBC, the Huffington Post and the Daily Mail Online have stories.

"Until they have been proven to have done something as awful as this—I think there is a strong argument in cases of this sort, because they carry such stigma with them, to maintain the defendant’s anonymity, until he is convicted," McGowan said.

McGowan acknowledged the counterargument. “There is obviously a public interest in open justice,” she said.

Among those criticizing the idea is the Cosmopolitan magazine blog Conversation Starters. “To us, such a measure seems like it would further contribute to the existing stigma that women who accuse a man of rape are bad or wrong somehow,” the blog says.

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