York University Challenge Contestant Cleared of Rape

Former history student, Barto Joly de Lotbiniere had represented York on University Challenge in 2015. Image: BBC2

A York graduate who appeared on University Challenge has been found not guilty of raping a woman while a student.

Former history student, Barto Joly de Lotbiniere, had been accused of having non-consensual sex with another York student in university halls in June 2014.

The incident was reported to the police in 2015, after the claimant saw the University Challenge constestant on the television show. She described feeling “angry and upset” after recognising his name in a tweet by Pointless show host, Richard Osman.

However, de Lotbiniere denied the charges, and told police that the allegations were “horrible, horrible lies”.

During the 5-day long trial, de Lotbiniere told the court that he had been out with a group drinking, when he returned to the woman’s on-campus accommodation. He described activities between them, but said that the pair had made a decision to stop.

He also told the jury that a text message sent to the woman apologising for his behaviour, saying”I did a very stupid thing”, had been due to embrassment.

After deliberating for six hours, the jury of seven women and five men cleared him on charges of rape and assault by penetration. The recent graduate sobbed after being found not guilty, before hugging his family in the public gallery.

The verdict was reached by a retrial at Bradford Crown Court, after the jury at an original trial at York Crown Court in February 2017 had been unable to agree on a verdict.

De Lotbiniere had become an online sensation, when he appeared on BBC2’s popular quiz series, University Challenge in 2015, due to his ‘posh’ name. He had appeared on the show around six times, before the York team were beaten in the semi-finals of the competition by Cambridge University.