Although he wasn’t declared guilty, friends and family, including loved ones claimed he was guilty even before the police questioned him. It took him nearly twelve months and a trial in court to prove his innocence.
Samuel is a father-of-two. AsAfrican.com has decided to call him Samuel, as he fears repercussions if he uses his real name.
He was acquitted on charges of rape and sexual assault. During his stay in police custody, it later on emerged that his accuser made false allegations against him and he was freed after eleven months and a few days.
The alleged victim said she framed him up before the police the day she realized that Samuel had another girlfriend and two kids.
“From the moment the police questioned me, they assumed I was guilty. It took nearly 12 months and a court trial to prove her wrong." Samuel said, while sighing in deep pains and agonies.
“Some family members and friends stopped talking to me. Some still don't speak to me till today’s date, even though my name was cleared".
"Whenever I walk on the road or in my community, I felt that everyone was either throwing shades or pointing fingers at me. My mother felt embarrassed to be with me, even my kids..my girls are afraid to come around me now, because they think I am a rapist".
"I was very well-known in the area where I lived and loved the place so much. But now I don't live there anymore. I had to move because people treated me differently even before the police questioned me and I was made a freeman".
“I suffered while in jail. I really did suffer. I lost my job at the factory immediately after the accusations were levied against me. I can’t risk that happening again. I could lose my job if women I work with now became aware that I was charged with rape even though my name was cleared. The stigma and consequences never leave you."
While all alleged rape victims are granted anonymity for life, like all defendants in a rape trial, Samuel was publicly named. The negative consequences of his situation made him lose the relationship with the mother of his kids, a paid job at the factory he worked, and friends and family, all because he was falsely accused on counts of rape and sexual assault.
He further stated his kids are even afraid to come around him because in his previous community, people branded him as “rapist”. Experiences such as Samuel’s are not being fairly considered by the Liberian justice system, which would look at how victims, witnesses and those accused are treated when a case moves at the police station and through the courts.
The rape laws are so facet that immediately upon being accused of rape, one is automatically placed behind bars even if said person is not guilty, while awaiting trail in court. Some even stay in prison for several months while awaiting their trails in courts, while others wait for a year or more.
Samuel blamed the police for what happened. He claimed his case would not have reached court if detectives had investigated the allegations against him properly, and if compromises were not made.
His accuser was a girlfriend of his who claimed he raped and sexually assaulted her when she realized that Samuel had another girlfriend she was not aware of.
Samuel claimed he opened the doors to his house that night and saw two policemen at his doorsteps. When he asked, he was told by the officers that his concubine in question told them he raped and sexually assaulted her.
“I know I lied by telling her I didn’t have a girlfriend, but I didn’t deserve such evil in return,” he said.
“She and I had a thing going on for about two months or so and we had few sex encounters, so why would I rape her”, he rhetorically questioned.
“I can never do that, it was all a lie. She planned it. We had consented sex the very same day and after I left her house, she called and cried on the phone saying I cheated on her. She threatened me that I was going to regret it.
“Later that night I was surprised to see her hair and clothes messed up with two policemen outside my house. When I opened the door she started to curse at me and told me I raped and assaulted her. I saw tears in her eyes, I was confused. My eyes couldn’t believe it. That she of all persons would plan something evil like this against me".
“They arrested, handcuffed and took me at a police station. I told them that this girl and I was dating and she made-up all of this but they didn’t believe me, they believed her instead.” Samuel explained.
He further clarified that he displayed his call history to the police during his arrest and it was sufficient to prove his innocence but they paid him no mind.
“I showed my call log to them. I told them we had consensual sex the very same day and I received a call from her an hour ago and she threatened me, but they didn’t bother to check the records of the call.
“If the police had checked the call and listened to the audio, there would have been a huge question mark over her version of story and they might have been prepared to believe me".
“But the police as usual were so sluggish and without conclusive evidence, they sent me to jail.”
About eleven months in prison while awaiting trial, Samuel said his stay in prison became extremely difficult. His life was like a game of chess and file was always shoved under the desk until he got his first court hearing around this time.
“My life was like a game of chess. My file was always pushed under the desk. I got my first case hearing eleven months of my stay in prison,” he asserted.
During his trial, details emerged that critically undermined the account of his accuser. The first was evidence of her threatening him on the phone. Then came inconsistencies in her speech and evidence of her agreement to the sex Samuel had offered her that very day.
“My barrister had already gotten the recording of her threatening me on the phone, when he played the recording in court, luckily for me she didn’t deny it. It was her voice and she admitted to it.
“We started to see her more nervous than she already was when my lawyer showed the court several text exchanges between us, clarifying that she and I dated, and he played another recording of her agreeing to the sex we had that same day".
“She had nothing to say thereafter. That evil woman was left speechless and I was declared innocent.”
When asked about his perspectives as to how cases such as his should be handled, Samuel clarified that the rape laws are mainly in favor of the accusers and there should be thorough considerations by requisite authorities to ensure that laws on rape are fair and balanced.
He also said that defendants during alleged rape cases should be given anonymity, because people bully and stigmatized them during or before court cases.
Samuel said he would support such a move for harsh legal penalties for women and men who make false claims.
“The laws should be fair and balanced and people who are defendants of rape should given anonymity. They bully and stigmatized them in the news and on social media before and during court cases.
“My character was destroyed and my life ruined. I lost friends, family members, my children mother, my job at the factory, and had to leave the community I was in.
“Even my kids who live with their mom are afraid to come around me. Their mom have to be around because she thinks I am a rapist. This experience has made me frustrated.
“I spend my life worrying that if my colleagues at work finds out about it, I will lose my job.
"She’s evil and made life a mess, but there will be no penalties for her. That just isn't fair."
Written By: Thomas Williams Fomba