Clint Rickards, remorse, and worthy work

Clint Rickards can practise as a lawyer.  Unsurprisingly, given Mr Rickards history, this has attracted feelings of disgust and repulsion at the “moral bankruptcy” of the decision by the New Zealand Law Society to issue him with a certificate of character. 

While ex-police officer Clint Rickards was acquitted of raping Louise Nicholas in perhaps New Zealand’s most high-profile rape case ever, he admitted behaviour that was at the very least sexually exploitative.  After he was acquitted he described two fellow police officers also acquitted of raping Louise Nicholas, but convicted of raping another woman as “good friends.”  I agree with Julie at the Hand Mirror it is his lack of remorse which is most chilling.

If we accept that rape is a choice to use violence or coercion, then we must also accept that not raping is a choice.  And that if someone chooses on one occasion to rape, genuine remorse is possible, and genuine changed behaviour from that point on is also possible.

So I’m saying I believe someone who has raped can change – and choose not to rape, ever, in the future.

But only if they know what they did.  Only if they can feel how truly violated they have made someone else feel.  Only if they can own it, acknowledge it, and say “I will never allow that to happen again.  I will never over-rule another person’s ability to control their own body again.”

So, for me, Clint Rickards’ original behaviour in the 1980s, as a police officer was at best, exploitative.

And his behaviour now shows no understanding of rape, sexual violence, coercion, power or abuse.

BUT he was acquitted – and therefore I do not feel the New Zealand Law Society had much choice about admitting him to the bar – and I also, sadly, know many other lawyers who show no understanding of rape, sexual violence, coercion, power or abuse. 

Others have commented on how frightening it would be for Clint Rickards, lawyer, to be questioning rape victims in court.  I agree, and I’m sure he will find much affinity defending men accused of rape, more’s the pity.

I’m interested though in his worthy work intentions:

…he wanted to work as a lawyer focusing on Maori issues, and help people unable to access or afford legal assistance.

phcollins1Does he mean Maori women and poor women?  Both are horribly over-represented in our criminal justice system, particularly as victims of crime.  Domestic violence for example – how many Maori and poor women cannot afford to get a protection order? 

But most women who recognise Clint Rickards are unlikely to hire him as a lawyer – at least while he remains remorseless. 

So he probably means he will work with Maori men and poor men.  Which, while still worthy, isn’t quite the same thing.  It reminds me of a beautiful book by African American feminist Patricia Hill Collins…


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