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Megan Williams is the 20-year-old Black woman from Charleston, West Virginia, the capital city of one of the nation’s most impoverished states disparagingly known as the ‘hillbillie’ state, which was recently kidnapped, tortured and sexually abused by an entire clan of White family members and friends.
While the case certainly ranks among the most despicable of any of its type in recent history, it conjures-up images of the type of treatment that contemporary Blacks may only imagine their ancestors endured at the hands of White slave owners who often treated their farm animals with greater care and attention than their slaves. In Williams’ case however, the prosecutors have not chosen to add hate crimes to the long list of charges assigned to the six defendants currently being held for the crimes.
While the efforts of Michael Baisden, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and others forced the nation and indeed the world to focus on the plight of the Jena 6, Williams’ case has not received the attention that it deserves on a national scale.
It certainly seems fair to ponder how major media outlets would have treated the matter had a Black family captured and kidnapped a young White woman, raped her repeatedly, forced her to drink human waste as well as eat dog and rat droppings, stabbed her repeatedly, and may well have continued their torture indefinitely until the victim had either succumbed as a result of her assaults or at the hands of her captors.
Local Blacks, as well as Whites in Charleston are appalled at the crimes committed against Williams. On the other hand, they are comfortable with the swift actions of local police officials and the decision of the prosecutor who has refrained from piling-on hate-crime charges against the defendants.
Ron Wilkerson, a local business owner and community activist said. “The Williams case appears to be the major item on the minds of Blacks and Whites, for that matter that I have encountered. Everyone is appalled at the fact that any human being would inflict that type of pain and torture on another.”
He added that collectively, local residents appear to agree with the decision of the prosecutor. “Last week the prosecutors upgraded charges against five of the six persons being held in the Williams case and they now face accusations of first-degree sexual assault and kidnapping which carry individual sentences of 35 years-to-life in prison, in addition to other charges.”
Wilkerson noted that those charges carry a far greater sentence than hate-crime charges indicating that the prosecutor is seeking the most serious charges that, with a conviction, carry the greatest amount of prison-time.
The sixth alleged defendant, Bobby Ray Brewster, who is already facing previous charges of assault against Williams, now faces the charges above as well as malicious wounding and assault during the commission of a felony.
Initially, only Brewster and his mother, Frankie Lee Brewster, were accused of kidnapping Williams who told authorities she was sexually assaulted, stabbed, choked and beaten during the time she was involuntarily held inside a small cabin at the Brewster’s Big Creek home.
Frankie Brewster now stands accused of kidnapping, first-degree sexual assault, three counts of battery and giving false information to authorities during a felony investigation. Karen Burton, also faces malicious wounding assault during the commission of a felony and 13 counts of battery, while her daughter Alisha Burton’s charges include malicious wounding and 11 counts of battery.
Danny Jay Combs now stands accused of three counts of first-degree sexual assault, kidnapping and malicious wounding while George Allen Messer, the final defendant, is also charged with six counts of battery.
It was recently reported that the Logan County Sheriff said investigators now believe Williams was at the remote trailer, not one week as previously believed but, from August 2 until Sept. 8, when she was found following an anonymous tip to the sheriff’s office.
On August 2, Brewster finally was able to raise the bail amount to secure his release from jail following his alleged assault and battery on Williams only a few days before.
It has also been reported that because of her previous contact with the defendant, Williams returned to the Brewster residence voluntarily but was later held for most of that time, against her will, inside the small shed.
Local residents have indicated that the Williams’ family has shut-down communication with Black community leaders and other well wishers, citing their concern that their daughter may be further exploited.
Meanwhile, as the defendants face grand jury hearings, Williams faces unrelated charges pertaining to bad checks she allegedly passed in several West Virginia counties.
“I know that individuals from throughout the nation are watching this case and most are anxious for justice to be served.” Wilkerson concluded. “While I hope for Ms. Williams complete emotional recovery, I also hope that this unfortunate case will draw attention to the injustice that is perpetuated against Black in countless other cities throughout the United States.”