A network of St. John residents, former residents and visitors is making sure the public knows about a spate of attacks on woman around the island — in its own way.
Some are working to publicize the incidents, which St. John Tradewinds was told included the rape of a young woman who was walking on North Shore Road in the VINP alone late at night.
Posters alerting the public that “women have been getting raped in St. John while hitch hiking or hiking Soloman Trail” have been posted around the island in recent weeks.
Others are working to help the victims of a variety of incidents — most of which apparently have not been reported to VIPD or VINP law enforcement officials.
VINP Has No Incidents Reported
V.I. National Park Service officials have been investigating the reports of sexual assaults — after receiving multiple calls asking about reported attacks on VINP trails, but VINP law enforcement officials have said no incidents have been reported.
Despite widespread on-line and on-island conversation and posted anonymous warnings that “women have been getting raped in St. John while hitch hiking or hiking Solomon Trail,” V.I. Police Department spokesperson Melody Rames told St. John Tradewinds the reports were “unfounded.”
“A couple of other victims… moved stateside” as long ago as March, according to a former St. John resident with emergency services background who maintains strong connections on the island and who contacted St. John Tradewinds.
The source listed five victims of a variety of incidents dating back to March — by name.
One long-time resident who works in Cruz Bay, said he had met the young woman who reported being the victim of a sexual assault by two men while hitch-hiking alone late at night on North Shore Road.
The victim reported one of the men raped her while the other filmed the attack.
Caller Criticizes VIPD, Media
One irate caller to St. John Tradewinds criticized the newspaper for reporting in the May 16 edition that VIPD spokesperson Melody Rames said police had determined the warnings of multiple sexual assaults on the island were “unfounded.”
“That’s why women don’t report attacks to the police — because of the police and the media calling reports rumors,” she said.
That caller also offered to put the newspaper in touch with the VIPD Lieutenant investigating what the caller said were multiple reports of assaults — before hanging up and not calling back.
The community members involved in the public postings of warnings went so far as to post wanted posters of a convicted rapist who had escaped from the Golden Grove correctional facility on St. Croix.
“He reportedly was seen on St. Thomas and he could be hiding out on St. John,” the activist, who is friend of a victim of the most serious attack reported — a late-night assault by two men of a lone woman walking in the VINP.
The escaped felon subsequently was recaptured on St. Croix after he raped a female acquaintance, although prison officials did not know he was missing until the woman called to report her rape.
Meanwhile, friends of sexual assault victims on St. John are keeping the pressure on the V.I. Police Department.