Jamie Griffiths, pictured, was ordered to pay her £250 compensation and complete a 12-month community order with 200 hours of unpaid work as well as signing on the sex offenders’ register for the next five years
Jamie Griffiths has now learned his fate. The shy schoolboy who touched a fellow pupil on the arm and waist as he tried to talk to her in the street has been sentenced.
After being found guilty in a Manchester court of two charges of sexual assault, Griffiths was ordered to pay her £250 compensation and complete a 12-month community order with 200 hours of unpaid work.
He also has to sign the Sex Offender Register for the next five years — his real punishment.
It still seems a rather harsh price to pay for a bumbling, adolescent attempt at friendship; for the physical expression of the inarticulate speech of the teenage heart. He was trying to make a friend, he told the court, ‘but the words didn’t come out’.
As his accuser melts back into the comforting shadows of anonymity, Griffiths, 19, must bear this stain on his character for the rest of his life, with a conviction that may disqualify him from many sectors of employment.
He may have been foolhardy, he may have been clumsy — and possibly may still be a risk — but he is hardly Jeffrey Epstein.
One can only imagine how this verdict strikes a chill into the souls of those mothers and fathers who must try to shepherd their shy boys taking their first hopeful steps towards love and romance in this febrile atmosphere.
More from Jan Moir for the Daily Mail…
For Griffiths’s chief crime seems to have been pimply gaucherie, not dark intent.
Consider his sentence with the recent case involving Paul Gascoigne. After kissing a woman on a train last year, the former England footballer has just been found not guilty of sexual assault.
Gascoigne said he was only trying to cheer up the woman after someone in the carriage called her fat.
If he was so concerned about her emotional well-being, why didn’t he remonstrate with her fat-shaming tormentor instead of pressing his foolish, booze-sodden lips upon hers?
If chivalry was his aim, that would surely have been the goal.
Gascoigne is a grown-up, a man of the world, a father and former husband. Yes, he is fragile and pathetic in equal measure, but how can he kiss a stranger on the lips without consent and be cleared, while this hapless teenager is found guilty?
The answer seems to lie with motive and intent — and also the desperate attempts of courts not to look out of touch in this post #MeToo world.
The judge in Jamie Griffiths’s case told him; ‘We can think of no motivation for you to touch the victim other than sexual.’
The verdict in Paul Gascoigne’s case seemed to hinge on his celebrity insistence that he was only trying to help, that there was no sexual intent.
Maybe the very fact that she was ‘a fat lass’ helped his case — shameful if true.
Yet who can accurately divine intent in these delicate circumstances?
Truly, it is hard not to surmise that things would have been better for all involved if both females had said: ‘Get off me, you idiot,’ and then got on with their lives.
Not that any woman should have to put up with a man laying a hand on her person without her consent, but a sense of perspective wouldn’t go amiss. Cases such as these make one wonder if the #MeToo movement, two years old this week, has gone too far. On the positive side, it has made it easier for women (and men) to speak out about sexual harassment.
And it has made some men think not once, not twice, but thrice before laying a clammy hand on a comely knee.
But it has also made some women feel that flirtation and speculative physical contact are an offence on a par with serious sexual assault and rape.
Today, fear and mistrust flourish among the sexes like never before. What our grandparents innocently called courting is now a war zone, full of traps, pitfalls and suspicions.
Jamie Griffiths had Googled ‘how to make a friend’ and then plotted to come into contact with his fellow pupil during two attempts to engage her in conversation. It is perfectly understandable how she could have been frightened or felt that she was being stalked.
She told police that Griffiths would have touched her breast had she not moved away from him — but how can she be sure?
Court reports detailed the effect on her well-being, which was extensive. Her school work suffered, she was unable to sit her mock exams, she became stressed and anxious and felt unsafe in her own home.
In addition, she was constantly tearful, unable to walk anywhere alone and the incident had hindered her application to Oxford. ‘It has affected my grades and potentially my future,’ she said in a statement. Well, not quite as much as it is going to affect his.
Griffiths was socially inept and immature, and has received counselling in relation to anxiety and depression. Reading between the lines, he was not the only person involved who was in a fragile emotional state, yet there is no clemency for him.
This is a sorry tale of our times and another indication that it is time for a complete overhaul of sex offence prosecutions.
In real life, important nuances exist between flirtation and assault, between affection and attack. And that should be reflected in the courts, too.
Carly’s so vain to intrude on Jackie O’s death
Carly Simon has always been a goddess to me. However, now that she has published a book about her acquaintance with Jackie Kennedy, I am glad I’m not her friend.
In Touched By The Sun: My Friendship With Jackie, the singer details the former First Lady’s thoughts about both her husbands — Jack Kennedy and Aristotle Onassis. She didn’t mind about Jack’s affairs, apparently, while Onassis was ‘sexy’.
Well, fair enough. But did we really need to hear intimate details about Jackie’s deathbed scene, as she passed away from non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 1994?
Simon chronicles everything, from the paisley scarf on Jackie’s head, to the Gregorian chant playing on the sound system, and her son John F. Kennedy Jr praying at the foot of her bed while a noisy Irish wake took place next door.
Two things: 1) Wakes only start when the deceased is dead, as my Irish friend always says.
And 2) As both Jackie and John Jnr are now dead, you might think these kinds of intimate revelations don’t matter any more. But they do. Some things should remain sacred, even after death.
The question NO woman should be asked
Recently married Ellie Goulding says she finds it invasive when people ask her when she is going to have children. She is right, it is invasive. Horribly so. Yet people ask young wives this question with impunity. It may be asked with all innocence and every good will, but it is still insensitive.
Pregnancy is personal and intimate. You never know what difficulties or heartbreak couples might be going through, or find themselves in circumstances where it is painful to be asked.
So let us desist in trying to harness the bootee booty. It’s not our business!
Ellie Goulding, pictured, says she finds it invasive when she is constantly asked when she and her husband are going to have a child
Mr Marr was Priti rude to Miss Patel
Andrew Marr has now apologised to Priti Patel for accusing her of ‘laughing’ in an interview about Brexit on his TV show. And so he should.
I do think that the Home Secretary has an odd, Mona Lisa-ish expression which suggests a smile when none is present. Her impenetrable countenance is reminiscent of the blue dress/gold dress internet conundrum, where people see different things in the same image.
Me? I saw a woman who was concentrating on what Marr was saying to her — and not smirking in the slightest.
Andrew Marr has now apologised to Priti Patel for accusing her of ‘laughing’ in an interview about Brexit on his TV show
I can’t applaud these softy students
Oh, students. What are we going to do with you? Those at Oxford University have passed a motion to ‘ban clapping’ because it ‘could trigger anxiety’. Clapping will now be replaced by ‘jazz hands’ — but isn’t that cultural appropriation and, quite possibly, even racially insulting? Meanwhile, their peers at Bristol’s University of the West of England have gone mad because they hate the new accommodation pods introduced there to solve an acute housing shortage.
The tiny 8 x 10 ft (2.4 x 3 m) pods have been branded ‘appalling’ and ‘not mentally viable’ by those living there. They might have a point — I have seen more luxurious stables.
But am I wrong to feel that the students won’t be entirely happy unless they are supplied with a Friends-style apartment, complete with butler service?
Radio 2 dropped the Ball with Zoe
It is hard not to conclude that Zoe Ball got the prestigious gig by gender default, and not because she is the best person for the job
For the third consecutive quarter, Zoe Ball’s listening figures have gone down, down, down.
After taking over the Radio 2 Breakfast Show from Chris Evans earlier this year, Zoe’s audience is disappearing down the great radio plughole, gurgling merrily as it goes.
The latest figures show a 364,000 drop, which takes the number of lost listeners to nearly a million in less than 12 months.
It’s not that Zoe is a bad broadcaster — although, personally, I’d rather pass my ears through a cheese grater than listen to her inane early-morning burblings, all right babes?
However, with the best will in the world, it is hard not to conclude that Zoe Ball got the prestigious gig by gender default, and not because she is the best person for the job.
And that Radio 2 continues to pursue a risky strategy by chasing a younger audience while ignoring its core older listeners. Like me.
In the same spirit, can we have a new set of rules regarding this year’s imminent BBC Children In Need — and any other celebrity charity telethon?
Every year, very, very rich people climb aboard the charity bandwagon to urge considerably poorer people to donate to the cause. Fair enough, for it is always a very worthy cause. However, in the interests of transparency, I would like to know what they are donating, too.
So why don’t we have a Strictly Come Dancing-style Children In Need leaderboard detailing the contributions from all presenters and celebrity guests? It’s the least those ordinary people, who dig deep year after year, deserve.
Swedish academics have identified ten famous people who are super-emitters. I know what you’re thinking, but it’s not that. They are the celebrities whose globetrotting and carbon footprints reveal them to be super-polluters. They include Paris Hilton, Oprah Winfrey and Emma Watson. No more proselytising about climate change from them, please, if you don’t mind, thanks all the same.