Thursday, October 22, 2009

Give the devil his due: Al Sharpton does the right thing

Rev. Al Sharpton wants investigation into rape allegations by Megan Williams, who is recanting story

Shades of Tawana Brawley.

The Rev. Al Sharpton revealed Wednesday that he gave a $1,000 Christmas gift to a black West Virginia woman who claimed she had been gang-raped by a group of white men - and is now recanting her story.

Only this time, Sharpton wants cops to investigate whether Megan Williams "fabricated her story" and the convicted men sprung "if they are being held under false information and she misled authorities."

Williams, 22, told cops in 2007 she escaped from a ramshackle trailer near Charleston, W.V., where she was held captive for a week - and where she was raped, tortured, and forced to eat her own feces.

Seven suspects pleaded guilty, and all but one are now serving long jail terms.

In a statement, Sharpton said he visited Williams after her horrific story broke and gave her some of his "personal money" after her supporters told him "she had no resources for Christmas."

Sharpton said that when Williams' lawyer notified him that she was changing her story, he immediately wrote to West Virginia prosecutors, asking them to "vindicate any wrongfully convicted individuals."

Williams, who now lives in Columbus, Ohio, is expected to speak at a press conference later Wednesday.

Brian Abraham, the former Logan County prosecutor who oversaw the Williams rape case, told the Associated Press he was mystified by her change of story.

Abraham said the attackers - all of whom had lengthy rap sheets - were convicted on physical evidence and their own statements.

Sharpton was a vocal supporter of Brawley, a black teenager who made what turned out to be bogus claims - more than two decades ago - of being kidnapped and raped by a group of white men.

Despite a grand jury ruling that declared Brawley's explosive allegations a hoax, her family continues to insist that she was raped and brutalized.

Brawley, who has since changed her name, later converted to Islam and moved to Virginia.