How could I, a 5ft woman, have possibly raped a strapping, 6ft businessman?


Last updated at 08:17 10 September 2007

A woman falsely accused of date-raping a wealthy businessman has told for the first time how the ordeal ruined her life.

Tanya Hutchison, a 42-year-old mother of five, was cleared of sexual assault but said the nightmarish police investigation had left her permanently scarred.

"My life is in ruins, all because of a claim that was totally ridiculous and should never have been taken seriously," she said.

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Tanya Hutchison

When six police officers arrived at her home to arrest her in front of her seven-year-old son, she told them that the man's allegation that she had spiked his drinks with a date-rape drug before forcing him into sex was ludicrous.

But despite her insistence that they had shared an afternoon of consensual sex, she was held in a police cell for four hours.

Then she had to describe every explicit detail of the encounter in a two-hour interview with five officers - four of them men - who she claims treated her as if she were guilty.

"I was stunned and terrified," she said. "I felt as if it was me who had been raped.

"I had to tell the officers every aspect of what I'd done with the man, which was deeply humiliating.

"They ransacked my home and took away my bedsheets, phone and, worst of all, my underwear to carry out forensic tests.

"I was questioned in a manner I felt was unnecessarily aggressive.

"I couldn't understand why I was being made to feel like a criminal over a claim that was so unbelievable.

"How could a small woman date-rape a powerfully built, 6ft tall man?

"I've been taking anti-depressants since it happened and I've lost more than two and a half stone because of the stress.

"I feel petrified when I hear police sirens and my confidence in the legal process is badly shaken."

Ms Hutchison, a part-time carer for the elderly, was cleared when the man, a married building company owner who cannot be named for legal reasons, dropped the allegations.

Yet she has received no apology or explanation from him about why, when their brief affair turned sour, he chose to take such a devastating course of action.

The pair first met three years ago when Ms Hutchison's then husband was working for the man's company.

Her marriage ended almost two years ago but she kept in touch with her husband's former employer.

When he called to invite her to meet for a coffee, she agreed.

"I was lonely, living in a tiny onebedroom house with my son, so I was delighted that he seemed interested in me," she said. "The coffee we had led to a few dates in pubs.

"I knew he was married but I thought he was separated from his wife.

"He told me that he thought ours would be a special, long-lasting relationship and he spoke of taking me on a trip to Portugal.

I began to believe we had a future together."

The man suggested meeting at Ms Hutchison's home in Worthing, West Sussex, and turned up at 11am on a Thursday in June with two bottles of wine.

"I was taken aback because the wine made it very clear he was there for sex," she said.

"But I liked him and thought he was serious about me so I didn't object. We each drank about a bottle of wine, talking and laughing together in a sweet and romantic way, and then he suggested we head to my bedroom.

"We had sex and it was entirely consensual."

"Afterwards, as we lay on the bed, he started talking about how much he loved his wife and how he would never leave her.

"His whole manner changed and he seemed very cold.

"He got dressed, walked into the kitchen and threw £60 on the table, saying, 'Buy something for the kids.' I was horrified that he seemed to be treating me like a prostitute.

"I was angry and felt used and cheap.

"In the heat of the moment, I threatened to tell his wife about us.

"He left in his grey 4x4 and, although I was badly shaken by what had happened, I never expected to hear any more about it."

But the man went to the police and told them she had spiked his drinks and had sexual intercourse with him without his consent.

The next morning, two police cars arrived at her home at 8am as she was getting her son ready for school.

Six officers piled into her tiny living room and, as her son clutched her legs in fear, she was told she was being arrested on suspicion of sexual assault after administering a date-rape drug.

The boy was taken to the home of Ms Hutchison's 22-year-old daughter, Leah, and Ms Hutchison was taken to Worthing police station while forensic-experts scoured her flat.

"I was in total disbelief when they told me why they were there," she said.

"I was terrified. I didn't get a chance to reassure my son, who was in tears, and they didn't explain the situation to him or his sister. I'm still very angry about that.

"I dread to think what effect it has had on him."

At the police station, Ms Hutchison says she was searched and kept in a cell without a toilet for four hours.

"I was shaking with nerves and felt sick but there was nowhere to be sick. Then the questioning began and it seemed to last for ever, although I think it was two hours.

"Five officers made me tell them intimate details such as what positions we'd used while having intercourse.

"I was mortified and felt dirty and ashamed. I couldn't understand why they were treating the man's claim seriously.

"I felt as if I was trapped in a bad dream.

"I can only think that he believed I was going to tell his wife and wanted to get in first with an excuse to cover up our affair.

"It's pathetic. Because of his weakness I've had to suffer in a way no innocent person should."

Ms Hutchison was released on bail.

A few days later, police called at her home to tell her that the man had admitted she was telling the truth.

She has struggled to recover from her ordeal and says she has lost faith in a system that has allowed her accuser to go unpunished for his lies.

She said: "It makes me very angry that he has got off scot-free for making up something so evil about me.

"He was not even cautioned for wasting police time and nobody has apologised to me.

"All I wanted was to trust a man again but I can't imagine myself trusting anyone for a long time."

A Sussex police spokesman said: 'We investigated an allegation of sexual assault against Tanya Hutchison but we can confirm there will be no further action taken."