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A Judge was accused yesterday of appalling insensitivity towards women after allowing a sex attacker to avoid jail on the condition that he write a letter of apology to his victim.
Judge Jeremy Roberts said that Prashant Modi, 33, a millionaire’s son who had led a “sheltered life” in India, had been faced with a confusing situation after three attractive young women fell asleep in his hotel bedroom this year.
The introverted businessman had been “led into temptation” after the women, all Swedish and in their early twenties, had agreed to go back to his hotel for some food after a night out in Central London, the judge said.
He told the Old Bailey that, under normal circumstances, Modi could expect a jail sentence of up to eighteen months but that he was instead being given a six-month suspended sentence. He would also have faced a stiffer sentence had one of the victim’s friends not awoken and started screaming during the attack. By then Modi was half-naked, had removed the victim’s jeans and knickers and was lying on top of her.
Describing Modi as unfamiliar with Western culture despite regular trips to Britain and four years spent as a student in the United States, Judge Roberts told the court: “I regard the facts of this case as being exceptional. I am satisfied that to jail you would be inappropriate and unjust.
“You were previously of exemplary character. By Western standards — and I am not trying to imply Western standards are wrong — Mr Modi is unsophisticated.”
He added: “Within three days, you will write a letter of apology and the Crown Prosecution Service will find out if she (the victim) wishes to receive it.”
Modi was also placed on the sex offenders register and ordered to pay £28,543 prosecution costs.
Sexual abuse counsellors and social workers said that the judge’s decision beggared belief. One of those in court said afterwards: “I have never heard of such a thing. He presented the defendant as the victim.”
Yvonne Traynor, chief executive of the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre in Croydon, one of the biggest rape crisis centres in Britain, said: “This is absolutely ludicrous. What does this say about women? How valuable are we that you can attack a woman and then get away with it by just sending a letter? I am horrified.”
She added: “To think that a woman can get over being attacked and having a man attempting to rape her by receiving a letter is laughable. It shows no insight into women’s feelings whatsoever.”
Sasha Wass, QC, for the defence, said that Modi, who travelled frequently to Britain to promote his father’s oil business, had met the three women through a friend, and they had all been out together before. Two had slept in his hotel room before and nothing sexual had taken place, she said, describing her client as shy, polite and geeky.
On January 29, one girl suggested that they go to a nightclub in the West End, where they drank champagne and vodka. When the girls suggested eating, Modi — ”always the gentleman” — offered room service at his hotel, as restaurants were closed. After eating, the girls fell asleep and there was nowhere for him to sleep except next to the girls in his bed, Miss Wass said.
She added: “It was a situation he had never come across before. I am told in India it is not heard of. Mr Modi was simply unable to know how to behave. Not surprisingly, he was aroused.”
After sentencing Modi, Judge Roberts said: “I suspect that this situation of having three women asleep in his bed and sofa would have been somewhat confusing. It was, of course, that situation that led him into temptation.”
He added: “I don’t suppose it occurred to any of these four people that there was anything dangerous in going back to the hotel room. There is no suggestion that he lured them back with any dishonourable intentions. All four were affected by alcohol. It is unfortunate that having had their food, the women did not go home.”
(Posted on August 11, 2006)