London Police Officer Pleads Guilty to Rape and Kidnap of Sarah Everard

LONDON — A police officer has pleaded guilty to the rape and kidnapping of Sarah Everard, the British woman whose killing in March touched off a national reckoning over male violence against women.

The officer, Wayne Couzens, 48, appearing via video link in a London court, admitted a charge of kidnapped Ms. Everard and another of raping her afterward, according to the court.

Mr. Couzens, who largely patrolled diplomatic premises, did not enter a plea in response to being charged with her murder, pending medical reports, although his lawyer, Jim Sturman, said he accepted responsibility for Ms. Everard’s death.

His admission, after the police said last week that Ms. Everard had died from compression of the neck, according to a post-mortem examination, prompted renewed anguish about Ms. Everard’s death, as well as conversations about women’s safety.

The disappearance of Ms. Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive, while walking home from a friend’s house in South London in March brought attention to a pervasive longstanding issue of violence against women in public and at home. Women in Britain shared testimonies online of assault and harassment and the lengths to which they went to protect themselves.

Anger at the police crystallized after officers discovered Ms. Everard’s body in a woodland and arrested Mr. Couzens. It then escalated after officers forcefully arrested young women at a vigil for Ms. Everard that had been banned because of coronavirus restrictions.

Many felt that the police’s tactics were inappropriate, and protests sprang up in cities across Britain against a policing bill that would have given the authorities more control over dispersing protests.

An independent government review published in late March found that officers at the vigil did not “act inappropriately or in a heavy-handed manner,” although the event’s organizers maintained that the review did not exonerate the police and that officers had acted dismissively toward them.

“Today’s news is horrifying and upsetting,” Reclaim These Streets, the organization that planned the vigil for Ms. Everard said on Twitter. “She was just walking home. This is the worst reminder that women still aren’t safe in public spaces, even from those tasked with protecting us.”

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