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Christensen Urges Justice Department to Release Results of Frett Rape Investigation

Aug. 22, 2006 – With rumors and innuendo continuing to swirl around St. John about the claim by resident Esther Frett that she was raped Aug. 30, 2005, Delegate Donna M. Christensen Tuesday called on the U.S. Justice Department to release the results of its investigation into the alleged incident.
"As we approach the one-year anniversary of the rape, I think that the St. John community and the Virgin Islands at large have been more than patient as they waited for the result of this investigation," she said in a news release.
Sen. Craig Barshinger also sent out a press release calling for information.
“I understand and share the outrage St. Johnians feel at the deafening silence from the FBI and Department of Justice as it relates to this situation," he said.
Christensen said she and a group that includes mainly St. John clergy decided Monday to launch a letter-writing campaign to the Justice Department asking for a speedy resolution.
Barshinger said he was also part of that group.
Christensen said the alleged rape caused division and rancor in the normally quiet St. John community, sparking rallies, sit-ins at St. John restaurants and shop-ins at the island's largest supermarket, Starfish Market. Those protesting claimed they wanted to force the island's business community into pressuring the FBI into making a report on the Frett case, which was termed a hate crime.
Christensen said that the Justice Department promised to issue a report more than once. She said those deadlines have come and gone.
In May, an FBI official said the agency had finished its investigation.
Christensen said that if the investigation is complete, the community and the "alleged victim" have a right to know.
"If it is not complete, then we have the right to know what the status is today, and if there is a holdup, what it is," she said.
Barshinger said that the St. John community is ready to accept the report, provided that it is well prepared, and the investigation was thorough and complete.
"Acting together, we can bring closure to the tumultuous, confusing events of the summer of 2005," he said.
The delegate said she's been meeting with the clergy group to discuss the issue.
Christensen aide Brian Modeste declined to release the names of the people in the group, but the Rev. Charles Crespo has told the Source that he is a member. He was on vacation and could not be reached for comment.
Crespo and others in early August set up a table in Cruz Bay Park to promote peace because they feared a repeat of the upheaval that hit St. John last summer and fall.
Crespo said then that in the space of a few weeks, Superior Court Judge Brenda Hollar sent Bob Sells to jail for violating the terms of his bail by allegedly threatening Frett. Sells was convicted on June 20 of a racially-biased assault on Frett that occurred June 3, 2005. On Tuesday Hollar sentenced Sells to four months in prison (See "Sells to Serve Four Month for Frett Assault).
Sells' store, Close Reach Imports, was set on fire Sept. 2, 2005. His jeep was torched the night before. No one has been arrested in connection with either incident.
Additionally, Renell Lettsome was convicted of second-degree murder Aug. 11 for beating St. John resident David Geiger to death on Oct. 29, 2005.
While Sells has not been tied to Frett's rape claim and the Geiger matter is unrelated to the Frett and Sells assault case, the incidents all happened in the same time frame and upset the community.
Christensen and Barshinger urged residents to send letters to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales at the U.S. Department of Justice, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20530-2000 or e-mailhis chief of staff.
Barshinger said residents should contact his office staff at 693-3603 if they need help writing the letter to Gonzales or want to sign a petition calling for the report.
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