Thursday, November 29, 2012

Moral courage of a rare order

I was very impressed to read of the moral courage and generosity displayed by two rape victims in order to prevent a miscarriage of justice.  The Telegraph reports:

It was a court scene unlike any other. As a 47-year-old painter and decorator accused of two separate and brutal rapes waited to face his alleged victims in a humid Barbados courtroom, he was anxious - but not for the obvious reason.

A small crowd of local lawyers and observers had gathered at Holetown Magistrates Court in the parish of St James, a squat, one-storey building with peeling beige and white paintwork, to witness an extraordinary encounter between two victims and their alleged attacker.

Only after the magistrate called one of the two British women to the witness stand to give evidence could the accused man Derick Crawford begin to relax.

While the second woman watched from the scuffed wooden benches of the public gallery, 63-year-old Diane Davies - a grandmother from Angelsey, north Wales - declared, in a clear and unwavering voice, what she believed to be true.

She had indeed been attacked and raped, she told the prosecutor, after being dragged from a sandy beach into the ruins of a disused hotel building in 2010.

So had her compatriot, Rachel Turner, 30, an academic at the University of West Indies' Barbados campus, in an almost identical way and at the same spot, two days earlier.

In many such cases the account of the victims can be the evidence that clinches a conviction. But in this extraordinary case the women were there for the opposite reason. Mr Crawford was definitely not the man who had assaulted her, Mrs Davies said defiantly. Nor, the court was told, was he Dr Turner's assailant.

Instead, both women were there to make clear that the Barbadian-born man facint them was innocent of the accusations against him - and to urge the magistrate, Barbara Cooke-Alleyne, to clear him.

They would not, Mrs Davies said, cooperate with any further attempts to prosecute Mr Crawford for a crime they did not believe he committed.

It was an astonishing moment - the more so when it emerged that in an unprecedented act of courage and generosity the two women had not only waived their right to anonymity as rape victims but also raided their savings to help pay for Mr Crawford's defence lawyer.

"I could not have afforded it," said Mr Crawford, newly released on bail while the magistrate consults the island's director of public prosecutions on the next legal step. On Friday she adjourned the proceedings until Dec 13.

"They gave their own money to help me. This is a one in a million thing. They could have just tried to forget what happened but they did the right thing." He and the women would be "friends for life", he said.

. . .

With its fabulous beaches and glitzy nightlife, Barbados is a paradise holiday destination for thousands of Brits every year but there is also a more sinister side to island life: a growing number of rapes and sexual assaults which is besmirching the island's reputation.

The women believe that the police acted to protect the tourist industry when they swiftly arrested Mr Crawford - even though both had said their attacker was younger, probably in his thirties, and taller.

There's more at the link.  Bold print is my emphasis.

That took real courage on the part of both ladies to waive their right to anonymity - let alone use their own money to defend an innocent man.  Sure, one might argue that they should have done so, but in this day and age, how many would have bothered to find out the details and stand up for what's right?  Too many would have turned their backs and tried to forget the whole thing.  Hats off to them both.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Amen, doing the right thing is all too rare and to be dismissive of those who say the world is going to hell, it has always been too rare. It will be so until it is done all of the time. In my opinion, your kudos are well placed and thank you for publicizing this.