British Army Private cleared of sexually assaulting female soldiers

British Army Private, 22, accused of ripping a female colleague’s jeans is cleared of sexual assault after telling a court it was ‘a prank inspired by a TikTok video’

  • Private Joshua Rideout was in bed watching films with two female colleagues
  • He was accused of sexually assaulting the two women who were in bed with him
  • Rideout, 23, claimed sexual contact with the pair was entirely consensual 
  • He claimed attempting to rip the jeans from one of the woman was a TikTok ‘joke’

A British Army soldier accused of ripping a female colleague’s jeans in a sexual assault has been cleared of all charges after he told a court it was simply a joke inspired by a TikTok video.

Private Joshua Rideout was accused of sexually assaulted two female soldiers while the three were watching films in bed together.

But the 22-year-old said they were both flirting with him and both consented to sexual contact, despite one having a boyfriend.

Private Joshua Rideout was accused of sexually assaulting two female soldiers while the three were watching films in bed together

The trial heard Pt Rideout began to ‘fancy’ one of the female soldiers after they started messaging, even though he and the woman were both in relationships at the time

He has now been found not guilty on four counts of sexual assault by touching, following a four day trial at Bulford Military Court, Wiltshire.

The trial heard Pt Rideout began to ‘fancy’ one of the female soldiers after they started messaging, even though he and the woman were both in relationships at the time.

However he said she gave him signs she was interested: ‘Originally I just thought it was harmless flirting, as it progressed I thought it became more serious. I did think she was interested in me.

‘I took the messages to mean yes she had a boyfriend, however she still has the thought that she wants to be with me or do something along those lines..’

The court martial heard she texted him to say she was naked and asked him to come over and watch TV with her and her friend, who also later accused him of sexual assault.

But while watching Ice Age with the two women in bed, he said he was getting ‘half a***d responses’ from her because she was more interested in her phone.

Once her friend left the room, he said: ‘In a bid to get her attention I tried to take the phone from her… This was all done in a jokey manner, there was no force used, we were both laughing and giggling.

‘We struggled with each other as if we were play-fighting.’

A court martial found Rideout not guilty of sexually assaulting his two female colleagues

However he said the ‘play-fighting’ turned sexual at one point and he put his hand on her inner thigh, while ‘watching her for a response’.

He said he continued because she was ‘laughing and smiling’ but then she asked him to ‘get off’ when another male soldier walked in the room.

The jeans ripping incident with the other female soldier later in the evening was ‘a prank’ inspired by a TikTok video, he told the court.

He told the hearing: ‘While they were watching TV I was scrolling TikTok. I found a video of people horsing around, having a joke.

‘In the video a friend comes along and rips their friend’s jeans. I found it very amusing so I tried to incorporate that into the situation I was currently in.’

He admitted in hindsight this was ‘immature’ and ‘childish’ but insisted it was not sexually motivated.

Later in the evening, he said he was in bed watching Magic Mike with the two women when the one whose jeans he had ripped pushed her bottom into his groin.

He said: ‘She was trying to poke me or rub her bum against me. At first I didn’t take any notice, I just thought she was trying to get comfortable.

‘It happened multiple times, at least four or five, and I realised it was deliberate. I turned and spooned her because I believed she was instigating it.’

However when the women left the room he told the court he began to wonder if he had ‘misread the signals’.

When he was then removed from the room by a male colleague he texted one of the women to apologise, although he claimed he did not know exactly what he was apologising for.

The trial had heard from one of the women who said that earlier in the evening she was on the phone to a male soldier when Pt Rideout ‘butted in’ and said ‘do you want to help me molest these two girls?’

Pt Rideout, who joined the Army aged 16, admitted saying this but claimed it was a ‘bad joke’.

The female soldier told the court she saw Pt Rideout pinning her friend down with his legs on her arms while she said ‘help’ and tried to get him off.

But she claimed she did not realise her friend was serious until she later messaged to say Pt Rideout ‘tried to finger me’ and had ‘rubbed really hard’ on top of her leggings despite her telling him to ‘get off me’.

The female soldier said she told Pt Rideout not to rip her jeans but she couldn’t stop him and the situation made her feel ‘uncomfortable’.

After this incident, she got changed and got back in the bed with her friend and Pt Rideout to continue watching the film.

She continued: ‘He was laid next to me… he put his hand on my hip and was stroking me with his thumb… then he started squeezing my a***.’

She said she told her friend by quietly typing it on her phone and showing her, so her friend put her arm around her to stop him touching her hip.

But the woman claimed Pt Rideout, from Kettering, Northamptonshire, then started ‘thrusting’ over her clothing.

She told her friend again and they left to go for a cigarette, discussed what happened and called a friend to get Pt Rideout out of the room, then went and reported the incident to military police.

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