Fears for rape claim girl

A YOUNG woman jailed for falsely crying rape after being bullied into a drunken encounter with three men was today described as "a decent person who got caught up in a bad situation".

A YOUNG woman jailed for falsely crying rape after being bullied into a drunken encounter with three men was today described as "a decent person who got caught up in a bad situation".

Claire Schulen, 20, of High View Road, who claimed she was raped after leaving an Ipswich nightclub last summer, broke down in tears as Judge John Devaux sentenced her to four months in a young offenders' institute.

As she was led away, one of her relatives shouted from the public gallery of Ipswich Crown Court "We love you Claire".

The court heard that Schulen had accepted a lift home from men in a passing car, but the men took her to a different part of Ipswich and persuaded her to take part in sexual activities.

Ros Mandil-Wade, speaking for Schulen, said the "strangers" had picked her up and "bullied her to take part in sexual activity" while she was drunk.

Fighting back the tears, one of Schulen's relatives who was out with her on the night it happened, said: "She is a decent person who got caught up in a bad situation.

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"She is a really sweet girl and a fantastic person. I am disgusted by the way she was treated by those boys.

"Claire is just an ordinary 20-year-old girl. She comes from a decent family and has obviously never been involved in anything like this before.

"I am very concerned about her. I think being in custody is really going to damage her. It doesn't even bear thinking about.

"I am disgusted she is being put in such a place – she is not a thief or a drug dealer or a prostitute," she added.

Miss Mandil-Wade explained how Schulen had been thrown out of Kartouche nightclub after having had too much to drink and then made "catastrophic mistakes", including accepting the lift.

The men did not take her to the Whitehouse area – as she asked – but to Downside Close.

Schulen had sex with two of the men, and a sexual act with a third.

Miss Mandil-Wade said: "While it can't be said this was against her will, to say she happily accepted is not the case.

"Once these men had used Miss Schulen, they left her. Her only means of getting home was a telephone box and a phone call to her father. By then she was in great distress.

"When her father asked what had happened, she uttered the immortal words 'I have been raped'.

"It was not her, but her father, who contacted the police – and the whole sequence of events took over."

Miss Mandil-Wade added: "This is a 19-year-old who was not a wild child, who was not promiscuous.

"Before this, she had only had two sexual partners – both boyfriends."

Michael Crimp, for the prosecution, told the court the investigation into the rape claim cost around £8,600.

He told the court that after the allegation on July 11, a team of 16 police officers – including two detective inspectors – and four civilian staff worked on the case.

A police surgeon had been used, forensic examinations and house to house enquiries had taken place and CCTV footage had been reviewed.

An innocent man had been questioned for almost an hour and detained for more than five hours.

Mr Crimp said: "On August 20, Schulen was called in. At first she maintained her account, but when various discrepancies were pointed out to her, she said that although intercourse had taken place in the car, there had been no rape."

Judge Devaux, sentencing, said Schulen's crime was "too serious to avoid anything other than custody".

He also said she had done "a grave disservice to genuine rape victims".

As she was led from the court to the cells, Schulen, who admitted perverting the course of justice in an earlier hearing, called out "I love you mum".

N What do you think of Claire Schulen's case? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk