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Oxford student ‘raped’ by classmate says she could not have consented because it was against rules of her ‘open relationship’

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An Oxford student who alleges a fellow student raped her said she could not have consented to having sex with him because it was against the rules of her ”open relationship”. 

At Oxford Crown Court yesterday, a jury were shown a video interview with the woman who accused Oxford University student Niall McPaul of raping her.

She later stood behind a screen in the court to give her evidence, out of sight of the accused.

The young woman told the jury she had woken up to find McPaul on top of her, raping her, after a night where she had described herself as “eight or nine” out of 10 in terms of being drunk, having had a bottle and a half of wine.

She told police McPaul had sat on the side of her bed following the rape and said: “This is one of those unfortunate things that happen.”

The jury was told by the prosecutor that McPaul had later texted the woman to describe what had happened earlier as “inexcusable really.”

McPaul, aged 24 years at the time of the incident, had met the alleged victim through friends at a US election party which students studying at the University of Oxford had thrown, the court heard.

Although she had told friends she thought he was “attractive’, the jury of seven men and five women were told she had decided he was “off-limits” under the terms of her open relationship with her boyfriend.

Explaining the open relationship to police, the woman said: “I was in an open relationship with my then boyfriend and we were not supposed to be involved with people in each other’s social circles.

“He was away and we thought that would be a good opportunity to explore dating and sleeping with other people because we both wanted a bit more experience.

“My boyfriend at the time time knew him [McPaul], so he was off limits.”

During a party in February 2017, the alleged complainant said she and McPaul kissed and subsequently exchanged messages but that her boyfriend was aware of it an “not particularly angry or upset”. 

On the morning of the alleged rape – April 22 2017 – the complainant had allowed McPaul to stay over after a party the previous evening and they had shared a bed in which they had cuddled.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said: “Although on some level I must have wanted that [sex with him], I do not think I would have, even when I have been very drunk I do not think I would have.

“I went to sleep saying, ‘I am not going to have sex with you’.”

Eleanor Laws, representing McPaul, suggested the alleged victim had engaged in consensual kissing and sexual touching while they were in bed together before she had gone to sleep and after she had woken up.

The complainant answered: “For a brief moment, before I realised what was going on.”

In her police interview, the complainant accepted she had made a public Facebook post following the incident in which she identified McPaul. 

Under cross-examination, the complainant also admitted she had been reminded of additional details of the evening of the alleged incident after reading an account written by another woman who claimed she had spent the night with the American actor and comedian Aziz Ansari.

The woman said: “It was something very specific in the news that jogged this memory. I don’t know if you remember reading about this account of a young woman who spent the night with Aziz Ansari.

“Apparently in her account, he kept asking, ‘where do you want me to fk you?’

“I then remembered that when we were on the sofa he had been saying, ‘shall we go to your room’ and I was saying no we should not. He said something on the lines of, ‘if you prefer to do it here that is fine’.

“I was quite confused and drunk and thought those were my two options: taking him to my room or go further with him on the sofa, which I obviously did not want to do.”

McPaul, now aged 27 years and of Headley Way, Oxford, denies one count of rape.

The case continues.

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