It is the practice of journalists not to identify victims in rape cases. But yesterday, journalists at the Charleston Daily Mail decided that the torture and rape victim in West Virginia was no longer entitled to her privacy because she had written bad checks.
The victim in an alleged week-long torture in Logan County was arraigned in Kanawha County Magistrate Court on multiple counts of writing bad checks.
Megan Williams is charged with offenses in Summers, Raleigh and Greenbrier counties. There are 11 misdemeanor counts of writing worthless checks, one misdemeanor count of obtaining under false pretenses and one felony count of failure to appear in circuit court in Summers County, according to documents provided by Kanawha County Magistrate Ward Harshbarger.
Megan Williams walked into the Kanawha County Courthouse Judicial Annex Tuesday afternoon with her hair still short and patchy from where it had been pulled out in places. Her arm was still in a cast and she wore a T-shirt that read, “It’s a girl’s place.” Her leg was still bandaged and she walked with a limp.
Megan Williams was found at the trailer of Frankie Brewster, 49, and her son, Bobby Brewster, 24, on Sept. 8. Williams had been beaten, tortured, raped, choked and forced to eat rat and dog feces, among other acts, according to criminal complaints filed in the case.
The others charged in the case are Danny J. Combs, 20; George A. Messer, 27; Karen Burton, 46; and her daughter, Alisha Burton, 23.
She was released on bond. I don’t know why the court thought it was appropriate to attempt to put someone in jail who is obviously suffering from serious psychological trauma, as her behavior in the courtroom indicates.
Megan Williams appeared briefly before Harshbarger before he made the decision to put her in a holding cell because of the number of reporters and family members in the courtroom.
“I wanna go home,” Megan said, clutching her mother.
Once in the holding cell, Megan Williams began to scream and cry for her mother, who was not with her.
Carmen Williams rushed to her side, “Here I am,” she said. “You better hush, Megan.”
After Harshbarger readied the paperwork, Megan Williams was brought back into the courtroom clutching a black and red teddy bear that at times she used to shield her face from the cameras.
She nodded to the magistrate as he asked her if she understood the charges and had her sign paperwork. She looked over at a camera to her left and stuck her tongue out. She stood on her toes shaking to look over the high desk of the magistrate and to sign papers.
As Williams stood in the courtroom, a Kanawha County sheriff’s deputy asked her where she got the teddy bear.
“Somebody gave it to me,” she said.
Then he asked how she was doing, if her injuries still hurt.
She shook her head.
“My arm hurts,” she said. “. . . Somebody broke it.”
While I would generally agree that someone who allegedly commits a crime should be identified regardless of their status in regards to other legal proceedings, in this case the crime she committed has nothing to do with the crime committed against her, which was particularly traumatic and humiliating. One can only imagine how the case against her captors would look now had she escaped rather than been found; Fox News would immediately smear her as a con and small time crook. They probably still will.
The moral of the story? If you are ever going to be raped and tortured for a week by racist maniacs, make sure you don’t write any bad checks first. Because apparently that entirely invalidates both your right to privacy and sane legal procedure. I’m sure not being a black woman would help too.
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