Police exonerate 2 in SOS rape case
Third suspect charged
Following months of investigation by the Women and Children Protection Section of the Liberia National Police into allegations of rape and impregnation of a girl at the SOS Children’s Villages in Liberia, two of the accused, including former country director, Augustine Alieu, have been exonerated while the third is being held, awaiting trial for statutory rape.
The case in question involved Mr. Allieu, and two other staff of the SOS Children’s Village Grand Bassa County program.
The investigation of the trio culminated in the performance of a paternity test on the baby given birth to by the victim to establish ownership of the child. But Suspect Allieu and another accused were exonerated.
The third accused was arrested and charged with first-degree rape for engaging in sexual intercourse with a minor.
In April this year, the former SOS Children’s Village boss was accused of inappropriate sexual contact with a minor under his watch though he was the one who had previously reported the case in November 2021 to the LNP under instructions of the organization’s regional office in Dakar, Senegal.
From the onset of the investigations all the accused were asked to report to the LNP’s Women and Children Protection Section at various times. They were all required to make statements and respond to questions from the investigators and were released to their lawyers since no probable cause was established to hold them in custody and charge any or all of them.
Nearly three months after the investigation started against Mr. Allieu, his lawyers repeatedly asked the LNP whether the girl’s claim that Mr. Allieu had sex with her on October 3, 2021, was constant. The LNP said that she was consistent with the October 3 date and did not change it.
With the certainty of the alleged victim’s claim of sexual interaction with Mr. Allieu on October 3, 2021, his lawyers presented evidence in his boarding passes for an early morning flight out of Liberia on the same date. They also provided his hotel receipt at the Royal Ambassador Hotel in Unification Town in Margibi County for the night of October 2, 2021.
However, since the investigation could not fully establish sexual contact between the victim and those she accused, the Minister of Justice instructed that since the victim was pregnant, a paternity test should be done on her baby and the three accused when she delivered.
After she gave birth in late July 2022, the accused were ordered to appear at the JFK Medical Center for sample collection for the DNA test on August 9, 2022. All three accused visited the pathology department of the JFK on the appointed day after the child and her baby had gone in for the purpose of sample collection. Buccal swab samples were collected from each of them by Dr. Benedict B. Kolee, Chief Pathologist of the Republic of Liberia, who also ran the test himself.
The test results for all three accused were sent to the Minister of Justice on Wednesday, August 10, 2022. The results showed that one of the accused is the biological father of the baby. Based on the result, Mr. Wayne McIntosh was arrested by officers of the Liberia National Police on Thursday, August 11, 2022.
Mr. McIntosh has been charged with the crime of first-degree rape for engaging in sexual intercourse with a person below the age of 18 years and impregnating her. He has been remanded at the Monrovia Central Prison, awaiting trial.
Considering that the police investigation and the DNA test could not establish sexual link between the girl and the other two accused, all investigations regarding Mr. Augustine Allieu and Mr. William Jaliebah in the matter have ceased.
Speaking at the Ministry of Information press briefing on Thursday, September 1, 2022, Assistant Commissioner of Police Sussie Telleh-Bility announced that the allegation of sexual misconduct against Mr. Augustine Allieu and Mr. William Jaliebah is unfounded, thus recommending their exoneration of accusations of rape.
Meanwhile, the unfounded rape allegation against such a member of the ex-pat community in Liberia raises concerns of what could be the actual motive behind the girl’s story and how she arrived at such a damaging claim against a person who has served the INGO community in and out of Liberia at Catholic Relief Service, and various capacities in PLAN International.
Other observers used the case to point out yet another exoneration of a senior expatriate and how rape allegation is being weaponized and used by people to target their perceived enemies, thus undermining the fight against rape. The SOS rape allegation against Mr. Allieu reminds Liberians of David Waines, the Canadian national who was Equip-Liberia’s Country Director. Mr. Waine was falsely accused of rape in 2013 and held in prison for months before he was freed.
In December 2021, the formal SOS Country Director Augustine Alieu was accused of raping and impregnating a 15-year-old minor at the SOS Childre’s Village in Grand Bassa County.
However, after the accusation, the Ministry of Justice reneged in arresting the accused in line with the non-bailable crime, which requires alleged perpetrators to be in police custody, pending court trial.
Under the laws of Liberia, a person accused of rape is accordingly arrested and detained until a medical report is given. But such action was never taken against Mr. Augustine Alieu since the genesis of the case. Editing by Jonathan Browne