KING GRAY – An officer of the Liberia National Police allegedly raped a 15-year-old girl last Saturday, June 20, at a police sub-station in King Gray, Paynesville, while police were investigating another man accused of attempting to rape her.
Report by Mae Azango, With New Narratives
The minor had been placed into police custody with the man, in his 20s, accused of trying to have sex with her on a truck. While at the police station later that night, Officer Emmanuel Wesley, in his 30s, allegedly forced sex with her, the victim told FrontPage Africa in an interview at the station on Thursday.
“Wesley put on a [pornographic] movie on his phone with a dog having sex with a woman, and I told him to remove the movie because our mother never allows us to watch such movies,” said the teenage girl, whose identity is not revealed to protect her identity. “When he cut off the phone, he said I should sit on his lap. When I refused to sit on his lap, he held me by my two hands and forced me to sit on his lap. He stood up and took off his trousers and took off my clothes, too. Then he bent me over the [office] desk and had sex with me.” Wesley threatened to hurt her if she screamed, she said.
The victim said the other police officers did not believe their colleague raped her—a claim the King Gray sub-station did not confirm nor deny.
A medical examination report from Redemption Hospital confirmed that the girl was raped.
Police have begun a manhunt for Wesley, who is on the run.
Everything is being done to arrest the suspect to bring him to justice, said Liberian National Police (LNP) spokesman Moses Carter in a mobile phone interview. “The police officer in question is presently…not to be involved in police activities. As soon as he is caught, he will be investigated, and we make it known to the public.”
The women and children protection division of the Zone Eight police depot at ELWA Hospital—which the King Gray sub-station falls under—cannot do anything about the case in the absence of the alleged perpetrator, according to the division’s commander James Tokpah.
“…he said I should sit on his lap. When I refused to sit on his lap, he held me by my two hands and forced me to sit on his lap. He stood up and took off his trousers and took off my clothes, too. Then he bent me over the [office] desk and had sex with me.” Wesley threatened to hurt her if she screamed”The Victim
Having sex with a person below 18 is statutory rape, which is a first-degree felony, with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. But the victim’s mother fears the case is being compromised and could not make it to court.
“The officers at the depot where Wesley works know where he is because my friends saw him on a bike yesterday heading to the very depot,” said the victim’s mother. “But they are hiding him and lying to their bosses that he is on the run.”
Women’s rights activists expressed the same concern.
“My impression is the police definitely know where this guy is,” said Facia Harris, executive director of Paramount Young Women Initiative. “According to a few persons we spoke to, they saw the man in uniform around the police station. So, how possible is it that the police will not know where to find him?”
A number of rape cases have been reported since Liberia instituted measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. More than 600 rape cases have been reported as of March 1, according to the Bureau of Corrections at the Ministry of Justice.
Women right groups are concerned about the rise in rapes, with many victims underage.
“Our society has a duty to protect the most vulnerable. It is disheartening to see and hear how the abuse of children continues to be on the rise,” said Brenda Brewer Moore, executive director of Kids Education and Engagement Program (KEEP). “It is even more appalling when officers of the law who have a sworn oath to protect are the perpetrators.”
“How do we ask people to report cases to the police, when they continue to prove that our security with them is not guaranteed?” said Harris. “We need commitment of a responsive system that treats sexual gender-based violence cases with the level of seriousness attached to other crimes like corruption.”
The victim does not feel safe with the policeman still on the run, she said. “I want the police to arrest him, because if they leave him to go free, he will come back here to do bad to me, since I am finished reporting him.”
This story was collaboration with New Narratives as part of the West Africa Justice Reporting Project