12-year-old’s plea to judge: Why did you free man who raped me?

Daniel Cieslak (right) walked free from court.
Daniel Cieslak (right) walked free from court.

A SCHOOLGIRL has told how she was devastated to learn the man who raped her had been allowed to walk free from court.

The girl, who was 12 at the time of the incident, wrote a heartbreaking letter, which was published in a Sunday newspaper this weekend.

In it, she said she had little memory of the night in July 2015 and feared her attacker had sex with her while she was unconscious.

Daniel Cieslak, then 19, had sex with the youngster at a flat in Gorgie after meeting her at a city centre taxi rank. He admitted statutory rape but told a court how she thought the girl was 16.

He was given an absolute discharge in court having claimed the 12-year-old had been an “active participant”.

In the letter, the girl wrote: “The guy Daniel said he didn’t know my age. I can barely remember that night.

“I have flashbacks, images ever since. I had passed out in the living room then I remember him picking me up, and then wakening up in a bed.

“It was said that I consented but how can someone consent when they can’t even talk? Before this happened, I was confident, happy, always had a smile on my face without trying. And now I fake a smile.

“I suffer from anxiety, depression, I take tablets to help me sleep. I even tried to commit suicide because I was barely holding it together.

“I have had a lot of low points. Then I found out he pled guilty and I didn’t have to go to court. My family and I celebrated.

“Then he walked free, nothing at all. I was devastated.”

Cieslak was said to have burst into tears when police revealed her true age.

The girl and a 13-year-old friend had gone into the city centre that night and had been drinking vodka. They missed the last bus home and then met Cieslak at the taxi rank.

Lady Scott said in her judgment that Cieslak understood from conversation in the taxi that Catherine was 16 and her friend was 17. The taxi driver also reportedly had the impression she was 20.

They went to his flat where they were said to have continued drinking vodka and cherry cola.

Sentencing earlier this year, Lady Scott said she had decided “justice is best served” by taking the “wholly exceptional decision” to give Cieslak an

absolute discharge.

READ MORE: Man who thought girl was 16 walks free

She told the court the statutory rape offence had a “very wide scope” with, as a result, a “variation” in sentencing.

She said the purpose of the offence was to “protect young girls” – but added there were “exceptional circumstances” in this case. The number of factors included Cieslak – and other witnesses – believing the victim was 16 or older. Lady Scott said the 12-year-old was also an “active participant” in sexual activity and that there was no suggestion of “predatory conduct” or grooming.

The girl’s mother told the Sunday Mail yesterday: “We were relieved when he pled guilty because it meant [she] wouldn’t have to go to court.

“But we couldn’t believe it when told what his sentence was. She asked me, ‘What happens now mum?’ I told her, ‘Basically nothing, darling.’ She asked, ‘So he’s just walked free?’ She wants to know why his side was taken.”

andy.shipley@edinburghnews.com