Ched Evans’ devoted girlfriend today said she has forgiven him.
Natasha Massey, aged 26, who has been with the ex-Sheffield United striker for four-and-a-half years, said she and Evans have ‘worked through’ their relationship since his conviction for rape in 2012.
Evans admits having sex with a teenage girl in a North Wales hotel room, but said the intercourse was consensual.
And her father Karl says he is ‘confident’ the player will be exonerated in time.
Speaking exclusively to The Star, Natasha said: “When I found out he had cheated, that was absolutely devastating. But I never for a second thought he was guilty of the charge.
“It’s personal between Ched and myself. We worked through it together as a couple.
“Now it’s about clearing his name.”
Evans, 25, was found guilty by a jury of raping a 19-year-old woman in a hotel in Rhyl, North Wales, in 2011.
At his trial he admitted having sex with the woman, straight after his friend and Port Vale defender Clayton McDonald, but said it was consensual.
The woman told police she had no memory of the incident and was too drunk to consent. McDonald was cleared of rape.
Natasha said she was ‘devastated’ when Evans, then living in Millhouse Green near Penistone, was found guilty.
“We never even thought it would get to court, and never thought he would be convicted,” she said.
“I was in shock. It was devastating. You just can’t imagine having to deal with something like that.”
Natasha’s dad – who has written an open letter in defence of the footballer – told The Star: “We have new evidence now that wasn’t available when he was convicted, or at the first appeal. I am confident Ched will be exonerated.
“Natasha has had a lot of abuse from extreme feminists. They pull no punches.
“But I don’t know anybody who knows Ched personally who doesn’t support him.”
Evans’ latest appeal will not be considered by the Criminal Cases Review Commission until 2017. He is due to be released from jail next month.
At the weekend Jim Phipps, co-chairman of Sheffield United FC appeared in a statement on video-sharing website YouTube stating that the club had not decided Evans’ fate.
And he said he was not naive enough to think it was ‘just a football decision’.
Mr Massey, who lives in Alderley Edge, Cheshire, said: “I have four daughters and they all love him as a person.
“We just want to get him home, return him to his family and surround him in love.”
Mr Massey and his daughter have been angered by a protest group campaigning against Evans’ return to professional football once he is released.
“For any other profession, bar footballer, there would not be any fuss about him going back to work,” Mr Massey said.
“As part of the rehabilitation process there is encouragement to go back. If he was a builder or plumber or kitchen fitter, he would able to.
“But Ched’s public image has been destroyed, and the only thing that will rebuild it is when he is exonerated, when we are successful in overturning the conviction.
Natasha said: “Knowing everything I know about the case in detail, I am 110 per cent confident we will clear his name.”