He’s one of the most hideous soap characters of recent times; Emmerdale viewers were horrified as we saw him rape his wife Rhona Ghoskirk after a row on their wedding day.
But this week’s episodes saw Pierce Harris released from prison after Rhona finally named him as her attacker, telling police that his wife had consented to sex before weaving a web of lies to discredit her allegations.
And while some people felt this was raising awareness of the problem of low rape conviction rates, others felt that it was a terrible message to show him getting away with it.
One viewer tweeted “#emmerdale this episode didn’t send out a very positive message to rape victims did it? Pierce getting out with no charges brought.”
Another pointed out ‘@emmerdale if y’all let pierce get away with this it’s just furthering the view that there’s no point in reporting rape, dont do that.’
This week’s episodes saw Pierce spread lies about Rhona, trying to paint a picture of her as an unreliable witness and a drug addict and suggesting that rather than this being rape, the bruises on her arms were a result of a preference for rough sex.
While the storyline came to a head last night, the attack itself was aired back in April and was the subject of a lot of controversy, as it was shown in Emmerdale’s usual slot at 7pm before the watershed.
Actor Zoe Henry, who plays Rhona, has previously commented on the difficulty of balancing the reality – low conviction rates for rape – and presenting a positive message to encourage victims to report sex crimes.
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“It’s difficult, because people want Pierce to get his comeuppance and I think, as a soap, and going out at the time we go out, we have a responsibility to tell that, but there is a truth in the fact that it doesn’t always end the way you want it to,” she told Metro.
“I don’t think I can talk about stuff we’re shooting at the moment but there’s an element of that happens in something I shot the other day.
“So they are being truthful and I think it’s right to be.
“But the main thing is we don’t want to deter women from reporting situations like this, so it’s a fine line.”