A woman has told of how she turned to drugs after being wrongly accused of a string of sex offences against a teenage boy
“It has been a nightmare,” said Sunderland woman Rachel Hoben, 44, who was charged with two counts of engaging in sexual activity in front of a child and two of arranging a child sex offence last year.
I tell people that it wasn’t true and that these charges have been dropped, but they won’t listen to me.Rachel Hoben
Despite the case now being dropped, she says she has struggled to convince friends and acquaintances of her innocence and is also concerned of the lasting damage the unfounded claims will do to her reputation.
The past year has seen Ms Hoben called names in the street.
Ms Hoben appeared at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court alongside her friend Raymond Fisher, who himself faced eight charges of sexual activity with a child.
The pair’s cases were heard at Newcastle Crown Court, but the prosecution against both of them was dropped last December.
Speaking about the moment police called to arrest her, Ms Hoben, who used to work as a care assistant in Hetton, said: “I just couldn’t believe it. To be arrested was bad enough but the day I got charged, I went mad.
“I told them that it wasn’t true, that there was no evidence but the police just said it was the CPS’s (Crown Prosecution Service) decision.
“I was more surprised because they hadn’t come and investigated me.
“They just took the alleged victim’s word for it over mine.”
Ms Hoben says that the stress of the incident saw her life spiral out of control, something she is only now getting back.
“I admit I turned to drugs to cope with things,” said Ms Hoben, who grew up in Sunderland city centre and is now living in a Salvation Army hostel.
“I’ve taken speed since I got charged.
“People were calling me names in the street.
“The name-calling is still going on now, it’s horrible. I tell people that it wasn’t true and that these charges have been dropped, but they won’t listen to me.
“I can understand, in a way, why some people have been the way they have with me.
“Everybody has their opinion, but they need to know the case was dropped.
“I just want to clear my name.”
Ms Hoben, who is now in a relationship, said she hopes that by speaking to the press, she will be able to get on with her life.
Her aim is to find a home of her own and employment.
“The whole thing’s been a nightmare that I want to put behind me and hopefully now I can,” she said.
The CPS has confirmed to the Echo that all charges against Ms Hoben and Mr Fisher, which dated back to between June 2011 and June 2013, have been dropped.