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Rapist Ched Evans Released From Prison As His Family Attack Media Coverage And Rape Charity

The footballer served half of his five-year sentence.

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ITV reported that a silver 4x4 pulled up outside the prison just before 5am this morning and left again seconds later with a man inside.

PA Wire/Press Association Images PA Video

Evans’ release has sparked considerable debate following claims that his former club, Sheffield United, are considering re-signing him.

The 25-year-old was handed a five-year sentence after being found guilty of raping a 19-year-old woman, who remains anonymous for legal reasons, in a hotel in 2012.

On Thursday, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, the MP for Sheffield Hallam, said the club should “think long and hard” before taking Evans back.

"When you take a footballer on, you are not taking just a footballer these days, you are also taking on a role model," Clegg said during his weekly phone-in on the LBC radio station.

"Rape is an incredibly serious offence, an unbelievably serious offence.

"He has done his time, but I just don't believe that the owners of a football club can somehow wish away the fact that that has happened."

Evans’ family released a statement prior to his release criticising the charity Rape Crisis for apparently refusing to engage with them.

PA Wire/Press Association Images PA Video

The family also attacked media coverage of the case and the focus on the fact 150,000 people have signed an online petition calling on United not to re-sign him.

And in August they said on their website: "Much has been said about the 'role model' label given to Ched by the media, Ched believes in his fight for justice, believes in fighting for what he knows is right, has been incredibly disciplined to maintain his fitness and has learnt from this whole incident, isn't that being part of a role model[?]"

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On Tuesday, Evans' girlfriend, Natasha Massey, appeared on ITV’s This Morning alongside the player's sister Kylie.

TV/This Morning / Via itv.com

Massey said she was standing by him and confirmed Evans was keen to play football again upon his release.

“It’s all Ched knows, he’s played football since he was little,” she said. “It’s out of our hands. We don’t know. I’m just his partner, I don’t get involved in the football side. What I do know is Ched would love to return to football and continue doing what he does best and what he loves.”

Sheffield United boss Nigel Clough has admitted the club has spoken about the possibility of bringing Evans back to Bramall Lane but there has been no official statement.

Earlier this week Loose Women panellist Judy Finnigan was forced to apologise after defending Evans on the ITV show, saying the rape wasn't violent and that he had served his time.

Her comments led to a backlash, and Finnigan's daughter, Chloe Madeley, received rape threats on Twitter.

Finnigan's husband, Richard Madeley, responded by saying "prosecution awaits" those who sent the threats.

Evans' family released a statement following his release on Friday.

It said: "Next week Ched will make a very personal and profound statement by video which will be on his site and available for use by the media should they choose to do so.

"Ched is now adjusting to normal life after serving a sentence for a crime consistently denied.

"Whilst we understand the media interest, we would respectfully request some privacy over the next few weeks.

"Ched would like to thank prior to the video statement, the thousands of people from all walks of life who have supported him and believe in him."

Richard James is the News Director for BuzzFeed Australia and is based in Sydney.

Contact Richard James at richard.james@buzzfeed.com.

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