Woman recants sex torture testimony

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The Reaper
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Woman recants sex torture testimony

Postby The Reaper » Wed Oct 21, 2009 5:08 pm UTC

http://wvgazette.com/News/200910201215
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Seven people pleaded guilty for their part in abusing Megan Williams -- but now Williams says that abuse never happened.

She will hold a press conference Wednesday in Columbus, Ohio, to recant her claims of abuse, attorney Byron L. Potts, who represents Williams, told The Charleston Gazette on Tuesday night.

"She has decided she has been living this lie for approximately two years and she has decided to tell the truth," Potts said. "She fabricated the story and she did this in retaliation because she was having a relationship with one of them."

But former Logan County prosecutor Brian Abraham, who was in charge of the case, said no one ever went to jail because of Williams' statements.

Instead, Abraham said Tuesday night, he decided early in the case not to rely on Williams' statements, but on the physical evidence and the statements of the co-defendants.

"It's ironic to me that today she's saying she made all this up. At the time she was criticizing me for offering them plea agreements," Abraham said.

"This isn't to rejuvenate her 15 minutes of fame, but to regurgitate her 15 minutes of fame. Is she proposing to give back all the donations she got?"

State Police found Williams at the mobile home of Bobby Brewster and his mother, Frankie Brewster, on Sept. 8, 2007. She was in a relationship with Brewster.

According to the admissions of those eventually convicted, Williams was physically and sexually abused. She was beaten repeatedly, held against her will, burned with hot wax, stabbed in the leg, and forced to perform oral sex on at least two defendants.

"Each of them made statements incriminating themselves and others. When you sat back and looked at it in its entirety, there was a pretty clear picture of what had taken place," Abraham said.

"As she got hooked up with her family and with additional handlers joined in, she continued to embellish. But we had her original statements that she gave. For the most part, they were consistent with what the co-defendants said happened."

The Brewsters and Logan County residents George Messer, Alisha Burton, Karen Burton, Linnie Burton Jr. and Danny Combs each plead guilty to crimes for abusing Williams. The crimes ranged from simple battery to kidnapping, sexual assault and one hate crime charge.

Burton pleaded guilty to a hate crime charge for stabbing Williams in the ankle while saying, "This is what we do to niggers around here."

At the time of the plea deals, Megan Williams, her adopted mother Carmen Williams, and her adviser Malik Shabazz criticized the plea agreements, claiming they were too light a punishment. Shabazz, co-founder of Black Lawyers for Justice and a member of the New Black Panther Party, gave Williams and her family legal counsel.

The Williams family, Shabazz and others criticized Abraham for only pursuing a hate crime charge for Burton.

Now Williams claims she wasn't abused at all, Potts said.

"They did plead guilty, I don't know why," he said of the defendants. "This is what she's telling me."

Potts said he contacted current Logan County Prosecutor John Bennett to tell him Williams was recanting her testimony. The prosecutor gave Potts contact information for the lawyers of the defendants. Potts said he plans to contact each of them.

"It sounds to me that there are innocent people held in jail for something they did not do," Potts said. "I have no idea what convinced them to plead guilty."

He said Williams knows that by recanting her testimony, she could be prosecuted for lying about the incident.

"She still wants to come forward. She's been fully advised that she could potentially be charged and end up in the penitentiary herself," he said.

Potts said Megan Williams was manipulated by Carmen Williams and others after she was found at the Brewster home. Carmen Williams has since died. Megan's adoptive father, Matthew Williams, could not be reached late Tuesday.

"I know for a fact she has been manipulated," Potts said. "People raised money for her, she never received that money."

Abraham also believes Williams has been manipulated.

Six days after Williams was found, Abraham met with NAACP and black church leaders to discuss hate-crime charges in the case.

"I remember specifically telling them, 'Look fellas, be careful how far you go out on this limb, you may get sawed off. Be careful of what she's saying and what her family is saying,'" Abraham said.
Seems rather odd that the stories would match up, and the men would plead guilty, and then for her to say the story is whole cloth. -_-

edit: spelling mistake in title ;-;
Last edited by The Reaper on Wed Oct 21, 2009 5:32 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Woman recounts sex torture testimony

Postby Chen » Wed Oct 21, 2009 5:17 pm UTC

Firstly I assume the title of the post should be recant and not recount right?

It does seem kinda strange that the men would plead guilty, though since the charges are fairly severe and the resulting punishment seemed fairly light, I guess it might make sense not to risk going to trial with it. I mean there could also be an issue of her be threatened and thus not recanting solely on her own accord. I assume it'll be looked into (hopefully).

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Re: Woman recounts sex torture testimony

Postby Internetmeme » Wed Oct 21, 2009 5:52 pm UTC

Chen wrote:Firstly I assume the title of the post should be recant and not recount right?

It does seem kinda strange that the men would plead guilty, though since the charges are fairly severe and the resulting punishment seemed fairly light, I guess it might make sense not to risk going to trial with it. I mean there could also be an issue of her be threatened and thus not recanting solely on her own accord. I assume it'll be looked into (hopefully).

Maybe a plea deal.

Also, I am reminded, strangely, of The Crucible.
Except where you replace witchcraft with sex torture.
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Re: Woman recants sex torture testimony

Postby Mokele » Wed Oct 21, 2009 6:05 pm UTC

Yeah, because no rape victim has even been worn down by years upon years of constant, vicious attacks on their character and wanted it all to just go away.
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Re: Woman recants sex torture testimony

Postby MrGee » Wed Oct 21, 2009 6:11 pm UTC

Like the article says, it would be very difficult for a prosecutor to get seven people to confess based solely on the victim's testimony.

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Re: Woman recants sex torture testimony

Postby Internetmeme » Wed Oct 21, 2009 6:19 pm UTC

So she just recanted to make it all go away?

Huh.


So, does this mean she gets charged with perjury and the seven people get released?
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Re: Woman recants sex torture testimony

Postby apeman5291 » Wed Oct 21, 2009 6:25 pm UTC

It seems very strange indeed. People can feel compelled to do some unusual things, I guess.
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Re: Woman recants sex torture testimony

Postby Belial » Wed Oct 21, 2009 6:27 pm UTC

Internetmeme wrote:So she just recanted to make it all go away?


The thing about no one knowing the truth is that no one knows the truth.
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Re: Woman recants sex torture testimony

Postby Dream » Wed Oct 21, 2009 6:56 pm UTC

Mokele wrote:Yeah, because no rape victim has even been worn down by years upon years of constant, vicious attacks on their character and wanted it all to just go away.

It does seem strange though, in that the supposed attackers were convicted and her ordeal in terms of media and the courts was over. If she wanted to be free of the whole situation, I'd imagine that switching it for "the girl who cried rape" is not a very alluring prospect.
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Re: Woman recants sex torture testimony

Postby Chen » Wed Oct 21, 2009 7:31 pm UTC

Dream wrote:It does seem strange though, in that the supposed attackers were convicted and her ordeal in terms of media and the courts was over. If she wanted to be free of the whole situation, I'd imagine that switching it for "the girl who cried rape" is not a very alluring prospect.


Yeah this was my thought as well. From what I could understand the whole trial/media circus thing was over. It seems like MORE attention would be brought to the whole situation by recanting now.

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Re: Woman recants sex torture testimony

Postby Telchar » Wed Oct 21, 2009 8:33 pm UTC

Look up the Ingram Ritual abuse case in Olympia, WA. Scary stuff, but another where the accused pled guilty when there was no reason to do so.

Not saying it's similar, but it does give credence to innocent people pleading guilty.
Zamfir wrote:Yeah, that's a good point. Everyone is all about presumption of innocence in rape threads. But when Mexican drug lords build APCs to carry their henchmen around, we immediately jump to criminal conclusions without hard evidence.

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Re: Woman recants sex torture testimony

Postby Diadem » Wed Oct 21, 2009 10:02 pm UTC

Innocent people confessing happens a lot, actually. Sometimes they even end up believing they actually did it.

But this specific case? I don't know. How could anyone? It's downright weird.
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Re: Woman recants sex torture testimony

Postby the_bandersnatch » Thu Oct 22, 2009 8:19 am UTC

Diadem wrote:Innocent people confessing happens a lot, actually. Sometimes they even end up believing they actually did it.


Yes, but 7 people all doing it? Unlikely.
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Re: Woman recants sex torture testimony

Postby Diadem » Thu Oct 22, 2009 12:37 pm UTC

the_bandersnatch wrote:
Diadem wrote:Innocent people confessing happens a lot, actually. Sometimes they even end up believing they actually did it.


Yes, but 7 people all doing it? Unlikely.

Considering the circumstances, not all that unlikely. Imagine a situation where you're arrested together with 6 buddies of yours, and charged with a serious crime like this. The offer of a very light punishment in exchange for a guilty plea is made to you all. What are you gonna do? Pride and principles aside, it's a simple equation of risk: x% chance of a very high punishment or certainty of a much lighter one. But what if three of your buddies already pleaded guilty? The equation changes, you being convicted is now a near certainty, whether you are guilty or not. So you might as well plead guilty as well and take that very light sentence.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying they are innocent. I'm just saying that false confessions are not uncommon. And even 7 of them would be not terrible surprising. Certainly the majority of confessions are probably real, but false confessions are common enough to be an important consideration in the courts.

Without any other information about the case, I'd say the odds of 1 woman lying are bigger than 7 men lying. But that's a pretty meaningless statement, because "Oh it's 70% probable they did it" is not good enough in court. Courts should be 99.9% sure. Preferably more.

[edit]
Actually, since IANAL, I have always wondered about that. What margin of error is deemed acceptable in courts? What is the official guideline for the number of nine's required? Does anyone know?
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Re: Woman recants sex torture testimony

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Thu Oct 22, 2009 3:09 pm UTC

IANAL, either, but I don't think that there's a percentage. I believe the usual standard is "beyond a reasonable doubt" — which is somewhat subjective, but then asking a jury of 12 to calculate the odds would be as well.
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Re: Woman recants sex torture testimony

Postby Aetius » Thu Oct 22, 2009 5:23 pm UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:IANAL, either, but I don't think that there's a percentage. I believe the usual standard is "beyond a reasonable doubt" — which is somewhat subjective, but then asking a jury of 12 to calculate the odds would be as well.


Especially because most people in jury duty are the ones too dumb to figure out how to get out of it, which doesn't bode well for their math skills.

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Re: Woman recants sex torture testimony

Postby joek » Thu Oct 22, 2009 6:59 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:Without any other information about the case, I'd say the odds of 1 woman lying are bigger than 7 men lying. But that's a pretty meaningless statement, because "Oh it's 70% probable they did it" is not good enough in court. Courts should be 99.9% sure. Preferably more.


Because everyone knows women are more likely to lie than men. [/sarcasm]

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Re: Woman recants sex torture testimony

Postby yoni45 » Thu Oct 22, 2009 7:10 pm UTC

joek wrote:
Diadem wrote:Without any other information about the case, I'd say the odds of 1 woman lying are bigger than 7 men lying. But that's a pretty meaningless statement, because "Oh it's 70% probable they did it" is not good enough in court. Courts should be 99.9% sure. Preferably more.


Because everyone knows women are more likely to lie than men. [/sarcasm]


Or perhaps because what everyone should know (but apparently doesn't), is that 1 person (that happens to be a woman in this case) is more likely to lie than 7 people (who happen to be men in this case).
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Re: Woman recants sex torture testimony

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Thu Oct 22, 2009 7:23 pm UTC

Although those general odds don't have much applicability to a situation where one person is accusing seven people of assaulting her.
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Re: Woman recants sex torture testimony

Postby yoni45 » Thu Oct 22, 2009 7:29 pm UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:Although those general odds don't have much applicability to a situation where one person is accusing seven people of assaulting her.


Of course - specific situational things do play a role.

But in this case, we're looking at 7 men who are claiming that they did commit a crime, and 1 woman who is claiming that they... didn't...?

It's definitely an interesting dilemma for the legal bodies...
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Re: Woman recants sex torture testimony

Postby GoC » Thu Oct 22, 2009 8:00 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:Considering the circumstances, not all that unlikely. Imagine a situation where you're arrested together with 6 buddies of yours, and charged with a serious crime like this. The offer of a very light punishment in exchange for a guilty plea is made to you all. What are you gonna do? Pride and principles aside, it's a simple equation of risk: x% chance of a very high punishment or certainty of a much lighter one. But what if three of your buddies already pleaded guilty? The equation changes, you being convicted is now a near certainty, whether you are guilty or not. So you might as well plead guilty as well and take that very light sentence.

A larger and more heavily weighted version of the prisoner's dilema?! Quick! Get the game theorists on this!
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Re: Woman recants sex torture testimony

Postby clintonius » Thu Oct 22, 2009 9:12 pm UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:IANAL, either, but I don't think that there's a percentage. I believe the usual standard is "beyond a reasonable doubt" — which is somewhat subjective, but then asking a jury of 12 to calculate the odds would be as well.
Yeah, this, in a criminal case. Civil liability is different -- you only have to demonstrate that the defendant is more likely than not to have been responsible for whatever it is that caused the plaintiff to sue. That's why it is easier to get a civil verdict than a criminal one, and why civil liability is not treated as an indication of criminal guilt. The OJ Simpson case is a very famous example of juries (separate ones, mind you) finding civil liability but criminal innocence.
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Re: Woman recants sex torture testimony

Postby Telchar » Thu Oct 22, 2009 9:32 pm UTC

Except those 7 men possibly aren't lying. Many people who falsely plead guilty do so because the believe that they did it.

It also could be that the woman has somehow been convinced that what she experienced didn't happen, in a similar fashion. It's a bizarre case, but really needs to be looked into further in terms of personal believes of everyone involved and previous experience with therapy.
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Re: Woman recants sex torture testimony

Postby PhoenixEnigma » Thu Oct 22, 2009 10:34 pm UTC

I'd like to know how she's recanting this. Is she saying this never happened, or that it wasn't anything illegal? I mean, if you get stabbed in the leg, isn't that kind of obvious? Regardless of what you may say, there's going to be a hole in your leg, right?

Am I missing something here?
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Re: Woman recants sex torture testimony

Postby Malice » Thu Oct 22, 2009 11:23 pm UTC

GoC wrote:
Diadem wrote:Considering the circumstances, not all that unlikely. Imagine a situation where you're arrested together with 6 buddies of yours, and charged with a serious crime like this. The offer of a very light punishment in exchange for a guilty plea is made to you all. What are you gonna do? Pride and principles aside, it's a simple equation of risk: x% chance of a very high punishment or certainty of a much lighter one. But what if three of your buddies already pleaded guilty? The equation changes, you being convicted is now a near certainty, whether you are guilty or not. So you might as well plead guilty as well and take that very light sentence.

A larger and more heavily weighted version of the prisoner's dilema?! Quick! Get the game theorists on this!


The proper solution, assuming you're comfortable being a bastard, is to finger the other six in exchange for immunity. It works out nicely because although it's the optimum strategy for everyone, not everyone can do it, and it's based on who gets there first.
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Re: Woman recants sex torture testimony

Postby Internetmeme » Fri Oct 23, 2009 3:23 am UTC

Diadem wrote:Innocent people confessing happens a lot, actually. Sometimes they even end up believing they actually did it.

But this specific case? I don't know. How could anyone? It's downright weird.

In the words of John Proctor from The Crucible:

"There are those who will confess to anything before they hang"
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