Mutiny descendants guilty in sex trial
By Mike Corder
SYDNEY, Australia — Six men have been
convicted of charges ranging from rape to indecent assault after trials
that exposed a culture of sexual abuse on their small Pacific island,
home to descendants of the 18th-century mutineers from the British ship
convicted late Sunday was the mayor of Pitcairn Island, Steve Christian,
who says he is a direct descendant of mutiny leader Fletcher Christian.
He was cleared of four charges of indecent assault and one charge of
rape but convicted of five other rape charges.
The verdicts were
read by judges sent from New Zealand for the trials, which began Sept.
30 in a makeshift court in the island's community hall. Sentences were
expected to be announced later this week, British authorities said
expressed concern that if the men are imprisoned, no one will be
available to crew a long boat that serves as the island's lifeline —
transporting freight and passengers to and from passing ships that
cannot dock along the rocky shore.
In all, seven
men faced more than 50 sex abuse charges, some dating back 40 years. One
man was acquitted, said Bryan Nicolson of the British High Commission in
Wellington, New Zealand.
building their case on the testimony of eight women, painted a picture
of a male-dominated society in which underage sex was commonplace.
Some of the
island's women came out in defense of the men, saying that although
underage sex did happen, it was consensual and important to the island's
survival. Pitcairn has a permanent population of 47.
Jay Warren, the
island's magistrate, was found not guilty of indecent assault. His wife,
Carol Warren, reacted angrily despite her husband being cleared.
name's been dragged through the mud," she told TVNZ. "The
whole world now sees him as a child molester. My God, if they only knew
None of the
victims of abuse still lives on the island; they testified by way of a
video link from the northern New Zealand city of Auckland. A New Zealand
police officer who told the eight women of the verdicts said they
welcomed the outcome.
all extremely relieved — as if a lifetime of emotional turmoil has
been concluded," police Constable Karen Vaughan told TVNZ.
"Some were overwhelmed, but on the whole they feel justice has been
men could be sentenced to prison time in the island's newly built cell
block. But they will continue to be free pending the outcome of an
appeal by defense attorneys against Britain's jurisdiction over the
remote island. That case is expected to be heard next year in New
midway between Peru and New Zealand, has long fascinated the world for
being the refuge of the men who mutinied aboard the Bounty and cast
Capt. William Bligh adrift with his supporters in 1789.
Islands are a group of five rocky volcanic outcroppings — only the
largest of which is inhabited — with a combined area of 18 square