Rape charges dropped against student who “quoted Trump”

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A University of Lincoln undergraduate alleged to have quoted US president Donald Trump while carrying out a sex attack has been cleared after the prosecution dropped the case against him.

Hugo Penfold, 21, was alleged to have sexually assaulted and raped a student and a second female student at the University of Lincoln.

He was alleged to have sexually assaulted the first student after telling her “In the words of Donald Trump ‘grab her by the pussy’,” before grabbing her private parts.

He was due to face a retrial later this month after a previous jury was discharged.

Penfold could have faced a lengthy jail sentence if convicted of both charges, but the prosecution has now dropped the case citing new information which undermined the evidence against him.

He was not in court to hear prosecutor Sarah Phelan offer no further evidence against him which led him to be formally acquitted of all charges.

Miss Phelan said that further inquiries revealed the first student, in a tweet about the rape, included detail which was different to the accounts she gave to police and in court.

The prosecutor said: “As a result of inquiries by the Crown the officer has furnished myself with additional information. As a result of receiving that information a decision was made that in all the circumstances the only course of action would be to offer no further evidence.

“One complainant had publicly tweeted about being raped by [Penfold]. She described wearing full pyjamas. That was completely at odds with that which she gave in her first account and in answer to cross-examination at trial. That is very undermining.”

During the first trial the student, who was 18 at the time, said she was raped after returning home from a night out.

She told the jury that afterwards Penfold visited her flat and apologised for his previous behaviour. They then lay on her bed watching Netflix before he removed her jeans saying it would make her more comfortable. She then alleged he raped her.

The teenager said she had previously had consensual sex with Penfold when both were drunk.

She said that on a previous occasion around the time of the US 2016 elections he had sexually assaulted her telling the jury “He said ‘In the words of Donald Trump grab her by the pussy’. He then grabbed my vagina. It was around the time when the election was happening. He touched me on the outside of my clothes.

“He found it funny. I said that it wasn’t funny and asked him to leave.”

Miss Phelan said the second complainant, who alleged she was raped by Penfold in November 2016 had withheld information.

Miss Phelan said: “In relation to the second complainant we became aware she was undergoing counselling. We made a request for the counselling notes.

“It became apparent that she had withheld information from the Crown. She was unwilling to furnish the Crown with the notes. She wanted to redact them herself. In all the circumstances the Crown realised that we could not complete disclosure.”

Penfold admitted having sex with both students but said what happened was consensual. The jury in his earlier trial in July last year was discharged after a juror sent a note to the judge.

Hugo Penfold, 21, from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, denied raping one of the students and three charges of sexually assaulting her.

The charges related to different dates between October 1, 2016 and March 3, 2017.

He denied a further charge of raping a second female student in November 2016.

After the prosecution offered no evidence Penfold was formally cleared. Judge John Pini QC said: “With the Crown offering no evidence I record not guilty verdicts and he is discharged.”

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