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NY Vincies want closure to PM case

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by Nelson A. King in New York 20.MAR.08

Deeply concerned about what they consider to be the tarnishing of the country’s international image, a number of Vincentians in New York have called for the rape and sexual assault charges leveled against Prime Minister Dr. Ralph E. Gonsalves to be put to rest once and for all.{{more}}

Though seemingly sympathetic to the Vincentian leader, most nationals interviewed by Searchlight said it is time to bring closure to an issue that has enwrapped the country and painted a bad image abroad.

“It’s a sigh of relief that the court has found it appropriate to dismiss the action,” said Arnold “Lydon” Charles, a former president of the Brooklyn-based Vincentian umbrella group, Council of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organizations, U.S.A., Inc. (COSAGO), alluding to the recent High Court ruling in upholding the decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to dismiss a private criminal complaint, filed against Dr. Gonsalves by four attorneys, on behalf of a 36-year-old female police officer.

“Hopefully, this can be put to rest at this time,” added Charles, a certified public accountant, based in Queens.

“The reason is the disruption and distraction from the business of government where there are many more important matters to be attended to,” he continued.

“I don’t believe he did it,” said the Rev. Dr. Glyger Beach, a United Methodist pastor in Harlem, who hails from Prospect.

“I can’t see him doing it,” added Rev. Beach, who is also a Colonel in the New York National Guard.

“If none of this is true, it’s bad timing for the Gonsalves administration,” he continued. “He has fortified the nation, spread economic news of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to the wider international community.”

Narissa Morris, an attorney in Jamaica, Queens, said the case was “questionable” from the inception.

“It was a frivolous case,” said the vice president of the Brooklyn-based group, Girls’ High School Alumnae Association.

“My understanding is that there was not anything substantive in the affidavit,” she continued.

Nevertheless, Morris called for healing in the land.

“Some time, there has to be some sort of national outreach so people can heal,” she said.

Greg Dublin, a director at the Friends of Crown Heights Educational Center in Brooklyn, said he hopes the judge’s decision will “bring some semblance of normalcy” in the country.

“We should always reserve judgment,” he said, urging members of the general public to refrain from “character assassinations.”

Instead, he said they should engage in “meaningful political discourse, so the country may fully benefit from progressive political action.”

Selwyn Cumberbatch, president of COSAGO, said the case was “a waste of tax payers’ money.”

“I don’t want to hear any nancy story that the PM (prime minister) raped me,” added Cumberbatch, a former detective sergeant in the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force.

“Show me the evidence,” he continued. “Rape is a very serious thing; but, on the other hand, that lady has to come with evidence.”

Others, however, bluntly dismissed the charges against the prime minister.

“He (Gonsalves) was not guilty in the first case, so I can’t see why they brought up the charges,” said Claire Hickson, a registered nurse, originally from Vermont.

“He should sue all of them, anyway, and clear his name,” added the Ozone Park, Queens, resident.

Cynthia Billinghurt, a certified home health aide in Brooklyn, said the charges were clearly fabricated.

“I don’t believe them,” she said. “This is politics, and these people will do anything to bring down the guy (prime minister).”

Maxwell Haywood, a political analyst and United Nations Social Development officer, said the case was “unfortunate.”

“And the only way it can be resolved is that the court deliberate on the matter and bring it to a resolution,” he added, reflecting on the complainant’s lawyers’ quest to appeal the High Court’s ruling.

“And, after that, the nation will have to dig deep down in its soul to find a way to carry on because, in many ways, while it is a negative situation, it can produce results that can benefit the nation permanently,” Haywood continued.

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