POLICE are investigating rape threat tweets directed at Jessica Ennis-Hill after the Olympic gold medallist said Sheffield United should not re-sign convicted rapist Ched Evans.
Ennis-Hill issued a statement on Thursday night saying she would want her name removed from a stand at the club’s Bramall Lane stadium if the League One club welcomed the former Wales international back following his conviction for raping a 19-year-old woman in a hotel room.
One tweet which was sent later in the day read: “I hope he (Evans) rapes her.”
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On Friday, South Yorkshire Police said: “South Yorkshire Police can confirm they are investigating reports of abusive tweets.
“Officers are making efforts to contact the individual concerned, but have launched an investigation into the posts.”
The heptathlete had a side of the Bramall Lane stadium named in her honour after her triumph at the London 2012 games.
She issued a statement in the wake of the Blades’ decision to allow Evans to train at the club to help him regain his fitness.
Ennis-Hill said she would want her name removed if Evans was offered a contract, adding: “I believe being a role model to young people is a huge honour and those in positions of influence in communities should respect the role they play in young people’s lives and set a good example.
“If Evans was to be re-signed by the club, it would completely contradict these beliefs.”
Campaigners against sexual violence have criticised the club’s decision to allow Evans, 25, to train with the team.
TV presenter Charlie Webster, Sixties pop star Dave Berry and Sheffield businesswoman Lindsay Graham have all resigned as patrons of the club since Evans returned to training.
Welsh international Evans was jailed in April 2012 for raping a 19-year-old woman in a hotel room in Rhyl, North Wales.
The striker denied raping the woman, saying the sex was consensual, but he was found guilty by a jury at Caernarfon Crown Court.
He was released from prison last month after serving half of a five-year sentence.
An appeal against Evans’s conviction was rejected by three judges at the Court of Appeal in 2012. His case is due to be looked at by the Criminal Case Review Commission.
After his release, Evans put a video on his website protesting his innocence and vowing to clear his name.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, a Sheffield MP, said on Thursday that if it was his decision, he would not have let Evans return to his former side.
But Clegg indicated that he believed the Welsh international should be allowed to resume his career, possibly with a foreign club.
And Football Association chairman Greg Dyke refused to comment on Evans, insisting he was on BBC2’s Newsnight to discuss FIFA’s investigation into World Cup bidding.
Asked if Evans should be allowed to play for Sheffield United again, Mr Dyke replied: “I don’t want to get into that tonight. I don’t think that’s what I am here for.”
Asked if he should take a lead on the issue, Mr Dyke said: “Here’s the straightforward question - are people who go to prison entitled to come out of prison and to try and rebuild their lives or aren’t they? Or is what they’ve done so bad and because they’re in an industry where their image is important - and that’s the dilemma and it’s not clear-cut.”
Clegg posted a message on Twitter condemning the “vile” abuse directed at Ennis-Hill.
He said: “Rape threats against @J_Ennis are sick and vile. This is totally out of order.
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