May 30, 2008
LA Times article upsets DPP

Let it be known that the Director of Public Prosecutions, Colin Williams, is not ashamed of his longstanding association with Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves.{{more}}

“I am not ashamed, embarrassed, or offended that I have known Ralph Gonsalves for upwards of three decades,” said Williams in an email that was sent to LA Times staff writer, Carol Williams, who wrote a news story on the rape allegations involving PM Gonsalves, in a May 25 article, headlined :”Rape accusation roil Caribbean island, two sexual assault cases against the prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines were dismissed summarily, spurring critics to say ‘old boy’ networks trump the rule of law.”

Williams accused the writer of misrepresenting the truth completely, and accused her not letting the truth get in the way of a good story.

In the article, the writer claims that DPP Williams “bellowed with amusement” in response to an allegation that another woman, 43, says that she was raped by Dr Gonsalves when she was an 18-year-old job applicant at his office.

“I did not say that,” DPP Williams told SEARCHLIGHT when we spoke to him about the article.

He explained, as he did in his email to the LA Times writer, that what he confirmed was that “one of the matters submitted by (the policewoman’s) lawyers was a statement from someone who claims that there was an assault incident 20 years ago. That individual surely was no job applicant, according to the information she provided,” DPP Williams said.

DPP Williams also blasted the author of the article for not mentioning what he terms “the glaring political connections and affiliations” of attorneys Sharon Morris-Cummings and Emery Robertson, while the author, on the other hand found it “important that Dr Gonsalves and I were once in Chambers together.”

DPP Williams also refuted the claim in the article that while the DPP has the power to take over and discontinue cases, the power is “rarely used on such serious allegations.”

“I related to her (the writer of the article) that on many occasions I have discontinued similar types of cases,” the DPP said.

Over the last few months, as rape allegations against Dr Gonsalves have surfaced, DPP Williams has come under heavy scrutiny.

Firstly, in the case against the 36-year-old police woman, who said she was raped by Dr Gonsalves at his residence on January 3, and then in the matter concerning Canadian Human Rights attorney, Margaret Parsons (name used with permission), who said she was sexually assaulted by the Prime Minister during a 2003 meeting, Williams stepped in a discontinued private criminal complaints that were filed.

DPP Williams and Commissioner of Police Keith Miller have been accused in some circles of allowing

their relationship with and loyalty to Dr Gonsalves to cloud their judgment and retard them in the execution of their duties in relation to the investigation into the Prime Minister’s alleged sexual misconduct.

At a press conference earlier this week, making reference to the need for the development of leaders in various sectors, Dr Gonsalves mentioned the decision to promote Keith Miller from the rank of Inspector, to Commissioner of Police.

“I went to the bowels of the police force and chose somebody who from my observation of him… was a leader,” Dr Gonsalves said.

Miller’s promotion is one of the reasons that critics say it is difficult for the Commissioner of Police to wholeheartedly, without fear or favour, investigate the allegations against Dr Gonsalves. Miller has strongly and repeatedly dismissed this suggestion, saying, that once evidence is presented that shows wrong doing on Dr Gonsalves’ part, the full weight of the law will be brought to bear.

Meanwhile, criticism of the LA Times piece has also come from the lead counsel representing the Attorney General in the matter relating to the police woman, Senior Council Anthony Astaphan.

“I have read your article online. The alleged facts and allegations presented by you have a deep jaundiced perspective against the Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines and are false,” Astaphan wrote last Tuesday, May 27.

Meanwhile, the LA Times piece quoted an anonymous United States diplomat as saying “we’ve noticed a number of worrisome incidents in which the rule of law seems to be in doubt.”