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Monday, 8 April, 2002, 18:09 GMT 19:09 UK
Woman's agony over rape case
Kirsten Summers
Kirsten Summers is putting her experience behind her
Kirsten Summers has welcomed a report into the "shocking" rape conviction rate in England and Wales.

She was ready to give evidence in the case against a stranger accused of raping her in her own home.

But when the case got to court an alleged confession was ruled out because the defendant was found to have a low IQ.

He was in my house for 20 minutes but they [CPS] dragged that on for another nine months

Kirsten Summers
The man was acquitted, which left Ms Summers feeling like she had been "raped all over again" but by the system this time.

She told BBC News Online how her nine month ordeal waiting for the case to come to trial ended so disastrously for her.

DNA evidence

The 30-year-old mother said: "I thought the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) did more damage than he did.

"He was in my house for 20 minutes but they dragged that on for another nine months."

As far as she was concerned there was compelling evidence in her case, including DNA and the alleged confession.

It's time now for women who have been through this experience to report it and stand up and be counted

Kirsten Summers
She had undergone a medical examination to help secure the conviction.

When the case came to court she waited two days for her turn to give evidence.

On the second day police officers took her to lunch ahead of her being due to take the stand that afternoon.

"I was shaking with a cup of coffee but I thought it's 2pm when I have to give evidence and I can deal with this".

But an hour later she had still not heard anything and her sister went to check what was happening.

"Two minutes later police officers walked in and said the case couldn't go any further.

"They said it would be my word against his".

"I was absolutely devastated. At no time did the police mention that this might happen.

"The police had said it would be cut and dried," she said.

More victims

But although her experience was a negative one, she hopes other women will come forward.

"50,000 women phone Rape Crisis. The cases mentioned in this report are just the tip of the iceberg.

"It's time now for women who have been through this experience to report it and stand up and be counted."

She found a report out on Monday encouraging because it recognised that more must be done to help rape victims.

The inquiry, by the Inspectorate of Constabulary and the Inspectorate for the Crown Prosecution Service, found that only one in 13 cases reported to the police results in a conviction.

It recommended a host of improvements to the way in which rape prosecutions are handled including the appointment of specialist rape prosecutors.

"This is the most positive news I've heard in a long time," Ms Summers said.

'Less trusting'

But she added that this must be matched by government funding to tackle the issue more effectively.

"No woman takes the decision to contact Rape Crisis lightly."

As for her own experience two years ago, she said it had made her less trusting.

But she is determined to not let it ruin any more of her life.

She intends to eventually tell her daughter what happened to her without being overprotective of her.

"It's time to move on," she said.

The BBC's Daniel Sandford
"Only one in 13 allegations result in a conviction"
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