Harry Potter star 'disgusted' at friend's sex act
( telegraph.co.uk ) - A teenage star of the Harry Potter films said on Monday that he was "appalled and disgusted" at the behaviour of a school friend who agreed to accept a caution for unlawful sexual activity with an under-age girl at his 18th birthday party.
Rupert Grint, who plays Ron Weasley, was speaking after a court hearing at which Joshua Lodge, 19, was given a caution for the sex act on the girl.
Both Lodge and his victim - whose age has not been released - had been drinking, the court was told. Lodge was among 120 guests at the party at the actor's home in the village of Watton-at-Stone, Herts, last September. The girl was discovered with Lodge and later made an allegation of sexual assault.
Lodge, no longer a friend of the actor following the incident, had been due to stand trial at St Albans Crown Court, charged with sexual activity with a child. But, after the girl's family had been consulted, it was decided that he should be given an official police caution.
Ann Evans, prosecuting, said that although the court regarded the offence as serious, the Crown had decided this was the best way to deal with the matter.
"I take the view that the nature of the offence was such that two teenagers at a private party where, unfortunately all sides had too much to drink, a caution would be appropriate.
"After considering the matter over the last few days and, having taken the opportunity to speak to the victim and her family, the Crown proposes that the defendant is cautioned for this offence.
"The defence is prepared to accede to this. I am sorry this case has been listed for trial and we have not been able to reach a decision until today.
"There is no longer any need to pursue criminal proceedings and I will no longer offer any evidence in these proceedings."
No details about the nature of the activity were given at the hearing.
Jacqueline Carey, defending, said that Lodge, a carpenter from Cheshunt, Herts, was prepared to accept the caution. He will have to sign the Sex Offenders Register.
Judge Marie Catterson, who was told that Lodge was of previous good character, formally recorded a not guilty verdict.
Lodge and the girl were discovered in an outbuilding at the actor's family home. Lodge was ordered off the premises.
Following the case, Grint, who plays the part of the ginger-haired loyal friend of Harry Potter in the hugely successful films of the J K Rowling books and who is now 19, released a statement.
He said: "I am totally appalled and disgusted by the actions of Mr Joshua Lodge. I am 100 per cent behind the victim in this case and indeed, all victims affected by this type of crime."
A spokesman for his family said: "Given the circumstances surrounding the incident, a caution and placement on the Sex Offenders Register is appropriate punishment."
Grint may have been called to give evidence had the trial gone ahead.
Lodge, who had attended the same secondary school as Grint, looked relieved as he was released from the dock. He hugged his mother outside court but made no comment.
Det Sgt Pete Frost, of Hertfordshire police, said that Lodge should consider himself fortunate to receive a caution.
"The maximum sentence is 14 years. Although he would never have got that, if he had admitted it to us at the time it would have saved a lot of aggravation," he said.