A judge said an alleged sex crime victim’s claims may have been ‘down to her vivid imagination’ or ‘inspired’ by the MeToo movement.
District judge Nicholas Rimmer made the comments just before finding hedge fund manager Crispin Odey not guilty of indecently assaulting a junior investment banker in 1998.
Mr Odey, 62, was cleared of launching an “octopus”-like assault on the woman after he invited her to his home in Chelsea, London, while his pregnant wife was away.
Mr Rimmer acquited the multimillionaire at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday and said the alleged victim’s account was ‘riddled with troubling inconsistencies’.
While commenting on the accuser’s complaint, he said: “Might it be down to her vivid imagination? Inspired by the allegations against Mr Weinstein and the MeToo movement. I cannot discount that it might.”
He added: “I find troubling her obvious preoccupation with the press, with your money, and her apparent desire for publicity of her complaint.”
After acquitting the defendant, the judge said he would leave with his ‘good character intact’.
Father-of-three Mr Odey admitted raising the possibility of sleeping with the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, but denied one count of indecent assault.
Giving evidence from the witness box Mr Odey said: “I am embarrassed to say if she had gone along with it, I would have gone further.”
Asked if he would have “taken the opportunity” to sleep with her that night, had it arisen, Mr Odey replied: “I might have … I don’t know, it didn’t happen.”
Defence counsel Crispin Aylett QC cited “contradictions” in her evidence and said she had a “natural tendency to embellish and exaggerate”, which he said made her “look like an unreliable historian”.
The court heard the complainant went to the police in 2017 in the wake of the MeToo movement, which sprang out of widespread disclosures about disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct.
Mr Aylett, summing up, said she “waited and waited until events on the other side of the world led her to believe she might become a standard bearer for a regiment of other complaints against Crispin Odey”.
During his verdict, Mr Rimmer said: “I am left unsure of (the complainant’s account) because despite the strength of her emotion and tears, her credibility has been thrown into question and her evidence is riddled with troubling inconsistencies.”
He added: “Where there is any doubt in a criminal case, given the high standard of proof, it must be resolved in favour of the defendant.
“I cannot dismiss the possibility that no more than your unwanted verbal advance or proposition to the complainant occurred on the evening in question.”
The judge said he found it “unsurprising” that the Crown Prosecution Service initially decided not to charge Mr Odey, something subsequently reviewed and overturned by a chief crown prosecutor, despite no “stronger evidence” emerging.
Addressing Mr Odey directly, the judge said: “I find you not guilty of this offence.
“I acquit you, and you will leave this courthouse with your good character intact.”