Ched Evans, professional footballer and convicted rapist, says he is “ashamed” of his actions but shows no remorse in his first interview since his release from prison.
The former Sheffield United striker was jailed in 2012 after being convicted of raping a 19-year-old woman in a hotel near his home town of Rhyl. Mr Evans admits having sex with the girl, but denies that he raped her.
The victim was named and sent abusive messages on twitter, and has now changed her identity.
In an interview with the Daily Mirror, Ched Evans apologised for cheating on his girlfriend but refused to apologise for the crime.
“I really thought it would have been thrown out of court and I was stunned when I was convicted. I had done nothing wrong,” the 25-year-old said.
“It was something that should never have happened. And it is something that I will regret for the rest of my life. I cheated on my girlfriend and had sex with this girl – but it was definitely consensual.”
More than 150,000 people have signed an online petition urging Sheffield United not to re-sign Ched Evans.
Katie Russell, spokeswoman for the charity Rape Crisis said: “After Ched Evans’ conviction, the violent and horrific abuse his victim received, on Twitter in particular, gave the impression that football was not a safe or welcoming place for sexual violence survivors or indeed for women and girls.”
“Football now has an opportunity to send clear messages to the contrary. Official statements condemning rape, sexual violence and violence against women and girls in the strongest terms would be a start.”
An appeal against Evans’ conviction was rejected by three judges at the Court of Appeal in 2012.
The Criminal Cases Review Commission has said it is to begin investigating the Evans case “within the next few weeks”.
A spokesman for the body, which reviews possible miscarriages of justice and has the power to refer cases to the Court of Appeal, told the Observer newspaper that representations had been made by the footballer’s legal team to prioritise the case.
He told the paper that after the request “in line with our published policy on prioritisation, and in relation to the facts of the case and the issues raised in Mr Evans’s application to us … we now expect our substantive investigation to begin within the next few weeks”.
He added that the decision to fast-track the case had no bearing on whether it may be referred to the appeal courts.
On Saturday, Sheffield United Football Club issued a statement denying reports that they had agreed to re-sign Evans. The club said they were “continuing to deliberate on any long term decision about Ched Evans.”