'I'd rather be called a murderer': The student cleared of raping a lawyer who was too drunk to remember anything speaks out about his ordeal
Are there worse things for a man to be called than a rapist? If so, Peter Bacon - who still has the word ringing in his head and surely will for the rest of his life - struggles to think of them.
'Rapist. It's up there with paedophile, isn't it?' he says. 'Rape is one of those things for which there are no excuses. Socially, it's one of the worst crimes because no one can ever justify rape.
'I'd say it is worse even than murder, because there can be circumstances where you can attempt to justify murder. Personally, I'd have preferred to be in that dock accused of murder than rape.'
Of course, Peter isn't a rapist. This week a court said so. A jury declared he was nothing more than an ordinary young man who once had a drunken one-night stand - albeit one which went horribly, terrifyingly wrong.
And yet the 26-year-old found himself accused: first, by the woman he slept with - a respected lawyer no less - who opened her eyes the morning after and screamed. Then by the authorities, who agreed that charges should be pressed.
It took more than a year for the case to come to court, and that has meant 13 months of whispers, finger-pointing and the assumption that everyone you encounter is thinking just one word.
'I can't even begin to describe how horrible that is,' he says, in his first interview since walking free from court on Thursday.
'Everywhere you go, you feel there are eyes boring into you. It was there in court, obviously, with the jury, the judge and people in the public gallery. I was thinking: "These people think I am a rapist. My God, they think I am capable of that."
'Outside court, too. People in the street. I was even paranoid of the builders in the car park. My friend would say "They are not looking at you", but in my eyes they were. Everyone was.'
And still are? He nods. The worst thing about a rape accusation, he points out and rightly so, is that it isn't shaken off easily.
'I'm an innocent man, but those charges are out there, for ever, on the internet. And these things stick. Some people will remember that I was actually acquitted, proved innocent. But for others, I'll just be yet another man who got away with rape, and that is devastating.
'What makes it worse is that she was the person she was. Imagine being accused of rape by a lawyer, for goodness sake? She knew the courts system.
'I was just this nobody - the accused. I was the lowest of the low.'
Peter admits that he harboured his own preconceptions about rape charges before 'all this'. Only a certain type of man would even find himself on a rape charge in the first place, wouldn't he?
'Exactly. And that man wasn't me. I'm not aggressive. I don't treat women badly. In fact, 80 per cent of my friends are women. It had never occurred to me that I needed to be worried about a one-night stand. I just never thought in a million years that I would be anywhere near a rape case. And yet I was, right in the middle of it.'
And how. His account of his ordeal should be read by every unattached young man heading for a night out. And every woman who might be tempted to mix alcohol and sex, then think of the consequences too late.