Monday, September 26, 2011

No evidence in alleged police sexual assault

A year-long internal investigation into allegations of sexual assault by police officers has been concluded after police say no evidence was found to support the victim's claims.

Cindy Williams reported to police on September 2, 2010 that she was sexually assaulted by two police officers shortly after she returned to Grand Bahama following a trip to New Providence.

Police say Williams alleged that on Wednesday, September 1, 2010 she was travelling on the eastern part of the island when two officers made her exit her vehicle and one proceeded to sexually assault her with his firearm.

Police say an extensive investigation was carried out due to the nature of the allegations with a team from the Complaints and Corruption Branch in New Providence visiting Grand Bahama to investigate.

"Nothing was spared in the investigation, including very costly forensic examinations, to identify the alleged culprits of what appeared to be a heinous violation of Williams' rights and dignity," police said.

Williams had taken her allegation of assault to the media appearing on a local television program.

According to police, every effort was made to ensure that people outside the police force were able to review the evidence and after the investigation, the complete file was turned over to the Office of the Attorney General for legal advice.

"No evidence was found to substantiate any of the claims made by Ms. Williams. None of her story was corroborated by any witnesses, surveillance footage, or forensic examinations," police said. "The Office of the Attorney General concluded that there was insufficient evidence or any suspect for the offence of Rape Contrary to Section 6 (1) of the Sexual Offences to be filed."

Police said the investigation into the incident, which has brought a tremendous amount of embarrassment to the commissioner of police and the Royal Bahamas Police Force is now officially closed.

"They were very serious allegations and cast a very negative light on an organization that prides itself on being a disciplined and upstanding organization. If true, this one incident could have eroded the public's trust and confidence in the organization and its ability to effectively protect its citizens, as those who are sworn to protect and serve, would have engaged in perhaps one of the most heinous and degrading acts that can be perpetrated on a female," police said.

Police said now that the investigation has been completed, it is hoped that the integrity of the men and women of the police force will remain intact.

"We wish to reassure all citizens that where allegations of misconduct are reported against any member of the organization, they will be vigorously and professionally investigated," police said.

The Royal Bahamas Police also sought to assure that in instances where police wrongdoings are exposed, guilty officers will be dealt with through its internal discipline system or through the court system.

Police also said that when false or unsubstantiated claims are made against officers, it can bring charges against the accuser, according to law.

"While bringing criminal charges against Williams was an option, the commissioner of police has decided not to in this instance for reasons that will not be disclosed. We wish Williams well, and wish to assure her of our fullest support in all matters," police said.