Anatomy of a Scandal season 1 – was James Whitehouse convicted?

April 15, 2022
M.N. Miller 2
Netflix, News, Streaming Service
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This article, “was James Whitehouse convicted of raping Olivia Lytton,” contains spoilers regarding Netflix’s Anatomy of a Scandal season 1.

The short answer to the question was James Whitehouse convicted of raping Olivia Lytton? No, he was not. James Whitehouse escaped a conviction despite the testimony that Olivia told the jury he had raped her in a government building elevator and she had told him, “Not here!”

James Whitehouse, however, countered the testimony. He said unequivocally, not only did James not hear her say “not here,” she never said “no,” because she said nothing at all. James announces that she only uttered the words, “Hell yes!” The matter was that the jury had to decide whose testimony was more credible.

They went with the politician.

Anatomy of a Scandal season 1 – was James Whitehouse convicted of raping Olivia Lytton?

Why was the jury convinced that James was innocent of rape? They were never told of the accusation of him raping Holly Berry in college because the rumor was never verified and never made the light of day. It could be presumed that the admission of how Olivia was in love with James may have worked against her. Some of the jurors could have thought that she must be a jilted lover.

Do we think the jury could have blamed the victim in this case? The series was based on a novel of the same name published in 2018. Considering the author, Sarah Vaughan, was a former courtroom reporter published in the middle of the #MeToo movement, she may want the reader, like the jury, to question their perceptions of what it means to give sexual consent and the biases that cloud that judgment.

It is clear that when Olivia said “not here,” that meant do not stick, not just your p***s, but anything inside her. Just because she seems to suggest she still may be up for sex when they get to someplace more quiet does not mean he is allowed to do whatever he wants. Yet, the series makes it a focal point (which is later, thankfully, corrected).

Olivia is a victim of acquaintance rape, meaning she had a previous relationship that can be sexual or platonic before the assault. A victim of rape is more likely to be blamed for the rape than one who is raped by a stranger (Gravelin et al., 2018). While this is not mentioned in the book, and it is hard to believe that James would not hear her utter words that offer resistance, this could be a factor. For instance, while some jurors may have believed Olivia was a jilted lover, others, and the jury pool looked older, could have been misguided and blamed the victim for being in that situation in the first place.

The question is: We know James did rape Olivia, but will he ever pay for his crimes?

You can watch this series with a subscription to Netflix.

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2 thoughts on “Anatomy of a Scandal season 1 – was James Whitehouse convicted?

  • April 21, 2022 at 7:30 pm

    It’s not clear that he raped Olivia. That much seems up to the viewer. He did however commit rape in college and this trial was a pursuit of vengeance for that. I take the stance he did not rape Olivia.

  • May 25, 2022 at 10:24 am

    The author of this post seems to have forgotten the rather elementary point that, in a criminal trial, the crown prosecutor has a burden to prove their claims to a criminal standard of proof. A verdict of not guilty did not require the jury to be “convinced that James was innocent of rape.” Nor did the jury have to decide that James’ testimony was “more credible” than Olivia’s testimony. In the United Kingdom, as with any country with a civil libertarian tradition, criminal defendants like Whitehouse are entitled to a strong presumption in favor of their defense. The jury may have found Lytton’s testimony much more credible than Whitehouse’s, but not quite credible enough to convict. It’s worth recalling influential jurist William Blackstone’s famous ratio: “better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.” Whether you agree with that reasoning or not, I’d imagine it weighed on the jury.

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