‘I am very sorry for what I did’: The inside story of the York student cleared of rape
The University Challenge contestant was accused of raping a female student in halls. We reveal the text messages used in court as evidence
On 29th June 2014, Barto Joly de Lotbiniere sent a text to a female student. They'd gone back together two nights before. A year later, she would accuse him of raping her that night.
"I was a disgrace and did a very stupid thing and I am very sorry for what I did. I just hope you can forgive me at some point and I'll try my best not to act like a bloody 14-year-old again and start acting my age, sorry."
On Friday, after a second trial, Barto was found not guilty of rape and assault by penetration. A retrial was ordered after the jury could not reach a majority verdict in court during the first trial back in February earlier this year.
Barto first received national attention after going on University Challenge when Pointless host Richard Osman tweeted about his surname being funny. The woman would later say this was the trigger for her to go to the police.
A year before this, he was a 19-year-old fresher, studying history and writing for campus newspaper York Vision. That night, he was celebrating finishing his first year of uni with his friends on what was the final night out of the academic year.
No one else was on the floor of her halls that night. They are the only two people who know what happened.
The Tab reported from York Crown Court at Barto's first trial. In court, Barto and the woman both gave their accounts of what happened.
Barto Joly de Lotbiniere was cleared of raping a student in halls on Friday. These are the texts they exchanged in the days after the incident:
Posted by The Tab on Monday, September 25, 2017
The night of the alleged incident – Thursday June 26th 2014
Barto, his alleged victim, and some friends were celebrating the end of their first year at university. There were around four of them, all pre-drinking together in halls for a couple of hours before the final night out of the year.
Eventually, they went into town to Tokyo nightclub (now called Fibbers). Neither of them bought anything to drink there, she says the drinks were too expensive. They left around 1:30-2am, seeking out Willow, often the destination after the regular student club nights close.
Here, still accompanied by their friends, they each had a shot of Sambuca, a common practice as they only cost £1.
They spent around an hour in here, leaving Willow at 3:30am, and stopping off at McDonald's before heading back to her halls. A typical night out.
He says they made light of the fact they were going back together. They kissed in the hallway for two minutes before he went off to get a condom.
Barto says he returned, opened her unlocked door and she was sitting there on the bed, he went over and they started kissing again.
She says she was not kissing him back at any point, and after Barto left to go and get a condom, she went to one of the communal toilets opposite her room. She waited there for ten minutes until she believed he'd left. When she came out to walk back into her room, she said Barto appeared behind her, and followed her in uninvited.
Inside her room, Barto claims they both helped undress each other, whereas the woman says he undressed her, and she "froze" and was "really confused" about what was happening.
In court, the clothes she wore that night were shown to the jury, with Barto's lawyer saying the clothes were too tight-fitting for him to have been able to take them off single-handedly.
They then began to have sex. Barto claims she said: "You're not very good at this. Let me help you."
This was a point of contention, as the woman claims she said it wasn't working and they should stop.
Barto got up to leave, the woman claims he said to her "pretend this never happened and tell nobody about this." Barto says he didn't say anything as he left the room, he claims the last thing he said was when he was agreeing to stop, "Yes, let's stop."
The morning after – Friday 27th June 2014
Barto texts a friend:
"Last night was a mad one. [A friend] left me his spirits. Had a bit too much. Can't remember much of the night.
They see each other at catered dinner that night but don't speak to each other.
The first interaction after that night – Sunday 29th June 2014
The woman leaves university for the year, she posts on social media saying farewell and how she will miss it.
She sends a text to Barto that evening:
"I thought I'd let you know I wasn't overly comfortable with what happened on Thursday night."
Barto replies: "Neither did I. I was a disgrace and did a very stupid thing and I am very sorry for what I did.
"I just hope you can forgive me at some point and I'll try my best not to act like a bloody 14-year-old again and start acting my age, sorry."
Explaining the text, Barto says he'd made out he was more experienced than he actually was, and had posed as someone who could do a one-night stand.
He went on to explain "I was a disgrace" had meant, "I should have performed better". He added, "I wasn't apologising for raping her", he was sorry about a one night stand that had gone wrong.
Barto's lawyer described it as a "disastrous one night stand".
They see each other again – Sunday 12th October 2014
Barto and the woman attend the same house party but do not talk to each other.
He messages her that night:
"I wanted to apologise to you in person tonight. I wanted to let you know I'm sorry for what I did and that there's no enmity between us and we can move on as mutual friends."
The woman learns Barto will be on University Challenge – Saturday February 14th 2015
A year later, the woman texts a friend: "Barto's going to be on University Challenge, I can't believe he's representing the uni, wish I'd gone to the police now haha."
The friend replies: "It's awful. You could still if you wanted to."
Barto becomes an internet sensation – August 3rd 2015
Barto Joly de Lotbiniere represents The University of York against Manchester in the first round of University Challenge, the popular BBC2 quiz show.
Twitter starts going crazy about his 'funny' name, he becomes a minor internet sensation.
The woman said at the retrial last week:
"He was all over social media and even though it was a year on I thought I should do something about it.
"First he was on the TV and then I saw a tweet about it and I got really angry and upset.
"It definitely got to me."
Marks for surnames on #UniversityChallenge
10 Out Of 10 – Joly de Lotbiniere
8 Out Of 10 – Katz
— Richard Osman (@richardosman) August 3, 2015
The crime is reported – Wednesday 26th August 2015
The woman reports the alleged crime to the police.
The arrest – Monday 28th September 2015
Barto is arrested. At his first trial in York he says his reaction to this was "shock".
"I was shocked, I was trying to think about anything that had happened on that night."
The charge – Friday 27th May 2016
Barto is charged with rape. It's the lead story on MailOnline. At this point Barto is finishing his third and final year at York.
The first trial begins – Monday 8th February 2017
Barto stands trial, accused of rape and assault by penetration.
During the trial, the judge says:
"The crime of rape is an emotive one. But you the jury decide the case on evidence.
"The most important direction in law is the burden of proof."
The first trial ends – Monday 15th February 2017
Jury fails to reach a verdict.
The retrial – Monday 18th September 2017
The verdict – Friday 22nd September 2017
Barto Joly de Lotbiniere is cleared of all charges.