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Rape Law Unknown

A lawyer for two men convicted of sex charges on Britain's remote Pacific territory of Pitcairn Island told an appeals court yesterday they did not know it was illegal to rape women.
He claimed Britain's 1956 Sexual Offences Act, which specified the offence and the penalties for it, had never been published on Pitcairn, one of the globe's most isolated places.
Six islanders lost appeals to the Supreme Court in New Zealand last year against their convictions in sex crimes against women.


Herald Sun (1-2-2006)
 
 
  

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Pitcairn Jail Appeal

SIX Pitcairn Islanders convicted of sex crimes will not have to serve their sentences until at least next year pending the result of a court challenge to British sovereignty over the island.
The Pitcairn Supreme Court yesterday ruled the men can remain free on bail on the island despite formally imposing their convictions and sentences for rapes and indecent assaults against young girls over 30 years. The court suspended their sentences until Britain's Privy Council hears the Pacific islanders' appeal.


Adelaide Advertiser (25-5-2005)


Raped, Abused Yet They Tell Lies For Their Men

ON the edge of the world, life is dominated by sex, fear and lies.
That assessment of the culture of Pitcairn Island - one of the world's most remote settlements - comes from a woman who says her childhood was so traumatic she left, as soon as she grew up, never to return.
Women and girls were routinely raped and abused and many were still prepared to lie to protect the men, claimed the woman, who cannot be named, on the first day of a sensational series of child-sex trials against seven prominent islanders.
The culture meant victims did not speak out about abuse, she said, adding there was no authority figure she felt would have believed her - especially as she was racially vilified because her mother was a non-islander.
"I blamed myself for what had happened to me, out of shame and guilt," said the woman, now living in Britain,
She was giving evidence on the first day of the trial of Pitcairn mayor Steve Christian, who is accused of raping her four times when she was as young as 11, and committing indecent assaults on two other women.
Christian and six other men are facing 55 charges of rape, unlawful carnal knowledge and indecent assault, and another 41 charges are pending against former Pitcairn men now living in Australia and New Zealand.
"Nobody would believe me," the woman said. "It just seemed to be the way of life on Pitcairn, how the girls are treated as though they are a sex thing.
"Men could do what they want with them. Who will believe them? Who will believe me against them? They seem to be a rule unto themselves."
The Pacific outcrop, only 4.3 square kilometres, was settled by Fletcher Christian and eight other British sailors after the 1789 mutiny on the Bounty.
Today it has a population of 47 - although that has swelled by nearly 30 because of the lawyers, judges, media and court officials shipped in for these trials by the British Government, which rules Pitcairn as a dependent territory.
Steve Christian, who is also the island's dentist, radiographer and supervising engineer, had treated his victims with brutality, Pitcairn Public Prosecutor Simon Moore said in his opening address.
He raped a girl of 12 when he was 21 years old, an incident described to the court as "a further example of the callous and cavalier conduct of the accused."
In a police interview, Christian said that one of the incidents with a 12-year-old was consensual, and said "these girls are fooling around with everybody", Mr Moore said.
"It is the Crown case that the accused is very much the leader and central figure in this small community," Mr Moore told the court as the defendant sat in the front row, wearing a bright blue Pitcairn Island t-shirt, navy pants and navy thong sandals.
"Even as a teenager- Steve Christian was a powerful and influential figure within his peer group on this island. He was the leader of the pack."
The woman sobbed as she told the court - via a satellite video-link from Auckland - that she had repeatedly seen her own father beat her mother until she was unconscious, and then tip buckets of cold water over her.
That history of violence made the women afraid to resist Steve Christian's advances.
She said she was bullied by the other Pitcairn girls - including current policewoman Brenda Christian, who is Steve Christian's sister; his wife, Olive; and Carol Warren, whose husband Jay is also facing charges.

Adelaide Advertiser (1-10-2004)
Claire Harvey


Family Tree Behind Pitcairn

# Christian family descended from Fletcher, Master's Mate on the Bounty.
# Matriarch is Dobrey, whose son Steve (defendant), the island Mayor, Is married to Olive (nee Brown).
# Their children, Tania and Randy (defendant), live on the island, as well as Randy's wife Nadine and children Jason, Bradley and Emily Rose.
# Steve's sister Brenda, island policewoman, is married to Mike Lupton.
# Cousins Tom and Betty (nee Warren), statesfolk of island, live alone.
# Cousin Irma Christian lives with her son Dennis (defendant).
# Warren family. descended from American sailor Samuel Warren,who went to Pitcairn in 1864. Not descended from Bounty mutineers but intermarried.
# Mavis and Jacob Warren live with daughter Meralda.
# Son Jay (defendant) and wife Carol (nee Christian) Warren run island shop.
# Jay and Carol's daughter, Charlene, lives with husband Vaine Peu and children Torika, Ralph, Jayden and Kimiora.
# Jay and Carol's other daughter, Darralyn, lives with Turi Griffiths.
# Cousin Daphne Warren lives with son Pawl, the assistant postmaster, and his wife Lorraine and children Pania and Mason.
# Cousins Reynold and Nola (nee Young) live together.


PITCAIRN Island has selected its first woman mayor in its 214-year history, after former mayor and convicted rapist Steve Christian was sacked last week.
The seven-member governing council on the remote Pacific island, first settled by mutineers from HMS Bounty, unanimously chose Steve Christian's sister Brenda Christian - the island's former police officer - to fill the post until a formal election is held on December 15.
Late last month, six island men were convicted of rapes and sex attacks on the tiny island that occurred up to 40 years ago.


Adelaide Advertiser (9-11-2004)


Nightmare Island

THE TRIAL OF SEVEN SEX OFFENDERS HAS EXPOSED THE BRUTAL REALITY OF LIFE ON A REMOTE PCIFIC ISLAND...

IT ALL began with one little Australian girl. In the mid-1990s, 12-year-old Jane (not her real name) was living on Pitcairn Island, where her father was stationed as Seventh Day Adventist minister to the community of 47.
One night, Jane was found missing from her bed.
When she returned home, and her frantic father demanded to know where she had been, Jane gave the first hint that something dark and disturbing was happening on this tiny Pacific speck. She had been raped, she said, by Shawn Christian, a Pitcairn man in his early twenties.
That allegation, although never proved, was the spark which started a massive investigation into life on one of the world's most remote inhabited islands.
Over nearty a decade, and against the furious resistance of many islanders, British investigators slowly and diligently uncovered Pitcairn's ugly secret; a shocking pattern of widespread, violent sex abuse by,adult men against young girls.
Yesterday, judges found six Pitcairn men guilty of a total of 32 charges, including incest, gang rape, indecent assault and rape of girls as young as 10.
Another six islanders, now living overseas, are awaiting trial on similar charges.
"It has been a long haul, but justice has been done today," chief investigating officer Robert Vinson said after the decisions.
For more than two centuries, this place has been known as the romantic, mysterious island hideaway of Britain's most famous military rebels.
In 1789, a band of British sailors led by Master's Mate Fletcher Christian mutinied aboard His Majesty's Armed Vessel Bounty and founded a settlement on the uninhabited rock, accompanied by a group of Tahitian men and women.
The half-British, half-Polynesian society ended up as a British territorial possession by default. The United Kingdom never formally declared ownership but Britain sent ships to visit and helped create a basic local government structure.
Over the past two centuries, Britain's attitude has ranged from mild interest to neglect - the island has no paved roads, sewerage, telephone network, airstrip, port or regular electricity supply.
ALTHOUGH Britain had spent 1 million on the island over the decade before the trials began, islanders complained their needs were being ignored.
In 1996, London finally had to pay attention. Jane's father, having pulled the family off the island and returned to Australia, was demanding a thorough investigation of his daughter's claim of rape.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office dispatched two British detectives, Dennis McGookin and Peter George, to Pitcairn. When they arrived on Pitcairn they found their suspect defiant.
Shawn Christian, son of the mayor, admitted sleeping with Jane but said the sex was consensual and he produced love letters, signed by the girl, to prove it.
All George and McGookin could do was give Christian a formal caution against sex with minors. But on their return to Britain. the detectives presented the FCO with a strong warning: Pitcairn urgently needed a police officer.
A Kent Constabulary constable, Gail Cox, was sent to Pitcairn to provide basic training for an island volunteer, Meralda Warren, Over two three-month postings in 1997 and 1999, Cox got to know the island women, hearing their stories of life on Pitcairn - some of which hinted the island had a non-Western code of sexual morality.
SEVERAL women had given birth to babies at 14 or 15 and given them to grandmothers or aunts to raise. Infidelity by husbands and wives was common and widely acknowledged. At least three men had been imprisoned during the 1950's for getting underage girls pregnant.
There were plenty of tales of girls starting sex before they reached puberty. But without a specific, recent allegation, and a victim who was prepared to give a statement, there was nothing Cox could do.
Then in December, 1999, Cox heard that a visitor to the island, New Zealander Ricky Quinn, had slept with a 15-year-old Pitcairn girl, Mary.
Cox charged Quinn with unlawful carnal knowledge of an underage girl and a hearing was staged in the public hall, before Jay Warren, who was then island magistrate.
The magistracy is an elected position, rotated among the Pitcairners, which involves enforcing local ordinances.
Quinn pleaded guilty and Warren sentenced him to the maximum penalty of 100 days' imprisonment in the island's long- disused white wooden jail.
But already Cox's Investigations were being undermined. Meralda Warren, the island policewoman, persuaded Quinn to plead not guilty to another charge, of indecently assaulting Mary's best friend, Kate, also 15. Meralda Warren believed Cox had misunderstood the island's culture, where underage sex was a natural part of life - a line still argued passionately by the wives and daughters of the defendants.
Cox agreed Quinn could avoid Jail if he left the island immediately, and set about digging for more clues.
In interviews with Mary and Kate the names of other Pitcairn men started coming out, including Shawn Christian and his older brother Randy.
Kate revealed that as a 10-year-old giri she had been gang-raped by Randy Christian and another man
In April, 2000, detectives Peter George and Robert Vinson flew to Australia to interview the Christian brothers, Shawn in Newcastle, northern NSW, and Randy on Norfolk Island. Randy Christian denied ever having sexual contact with Kate but both brothers admitted they had slept with other underage island girls.
The detectives flew to NZ to interview Sally, a girl Randy said he had slept with, Sally told them she did not want to make a complaint against Randy - but mentioned that when she was 12 or 13 she had been raped by Dave Brown, another island man.
The detectives who had by now formally codenamed their investigation "Operation Unique", visited dozens of Pitcairn women in NZ, Australia and the UK, as well as on the island itself.
The trail of evidence never went cold. Most of the women said they had never spoken about the abuse before, not even to their husbands, not to their parents.
"You get abused, you get raped. Back on Pitcairn, that's the normal way of life," said one woman who was repeatedly raped by Steve Christian and Len Brown.
WHEN the detectives interviewed the men themselves, they got admissions from five out of the six who were found guilty yesterday. All said the girls "wanted it".
Steve Christian systematically raped virgins of 11 and 12 telling them he was "initiating" them into sex.
Once he had led the way other men on the island would follow, raping- the girls whenever they chose.
Brothers were raping their sisters while parents turned a blind eye.
One of Randy Christian's victims, Kate, told him: "I'm going to tell my Dad everything." But the sad, inevitable truth is that Kate's father is one of the men convicted yesterday of abusing underage girls.
That is life on Pitcairn Island. Everyone is related. All of the houses are within 10 minutes' walk- And until this investigation began there was no police officer, no independent magistrate, nowhere for the victims to turn.
In such a small community a culture of denial is not surprising.
It certainly explained why victims such as Gloria did not feel they could speak out at the time of the abuse, Pitcairn Island Chief Justice Charles Blackie said in his judgment yesterday.
"In reality, who could she turn to?" he said. "Who would believe her? And what would they be able to do about it?"

Adelaide Advertiser (26-10-2004)
Claire Harvey


Not A Word As Pitcairn Men Leave With Guilty Verdicts

ON the way in to hear the judgments, they were laughing and joking but the rapists and child molesters of Pitcairn Island had nothing to say on the way out.
Six Pitcairn men have been found guilty of committing child sex crimes over 40 years, including incest, rape and indecent assault against girls as young as seven years old.
One man, Jay Warren, was acquitted of the only charge he faced: indecently assaulting a 12-year-old girl, when he was 27 in 1983.
One of the guilty men, Dennis Christian, had admitted three sexual assaults before his trial began.
The verdicts are the culmination of nearly a decade of investigation by British police into the dark sexual culture of this tiny rock-the world's most remote inhabited island and Britain's last colonial possession in the Pacific, Chief investigating officer Robert Vinson, of Kent Constabulary, said later: "I am extremely pleased. It has been a very important day for Pitcairn Island.
"These judgments today have sent a clear message that the abuse of children is not acceptable in any culture anywhere and Pitcairn Island is no exception."
Judges found 32 charges proved and 17 not proved beyond reasonable doubt but said they believed that all seven former Pitcairn women who gave video-link evidence were honest in their claims of abuse.
Another six charges were withdrawn or dismissed because complainants changed their minds and refused to testify.
The men will be sentenced on Thursday afternoon (Pitcairn time), which is Friday AEST, But neither conviction nor sentence will be formally entered against the men until next year, after the hearing of defence arguments that the trials are invalid. Defence lawyers will argue next year before the Privy Council in London - the highest appeal court for British overseas territories - that Britain has never established legal jurisdiction over Pitcairn.
Defence barristers also will tell the Pitcairn Island Supreme Court, in a special sitting In Auckland, New Zealand, that Britain failed to ever inform the Pitcairners that they were subject to British law.
Only 47 people live on Pitcairn, a 4.2sq km lump of rock, halfway between NZ and Peru.
It was settled in 1790 by Fletcher Christian and his band of rebel British sailors after they mutinied aboard the Royal Navy ship Bounty.
The guilty men, all of whom claim some ancestry from the mutineers, are the powerful men of this island.
Mayor Steve Christian, described by prosecutors as "the leader of the pack", was found guilty of five rapes of girls as young as 11 and acquitted of four indecent assaults and one rape. His son, Randy, chairman of the internal works committee, is guilty of four rapes, including one gang rape of a 10-year-old, and five indecent assaults.
He is not guilty of three indecent assaults and one rape.
Steve's brother-in-law, Dave Brown, is guilty of six indecent assaults against girls as young as 12 and acquitted of six counts of indecent assault and gross indecency.
Dave's father, Len Brown, is guilty of twice raping a girl as young as 15 and Terry Young, 46, is guilty of one rape and six indecent assaults against girls as young as seven.
NZ policewoman Karen Vaugban, who spoke to all seven complainants yesterday, said they were all "relieved, as if a lifetime of emotional turmoil had been concluded".

Adelaide Advertiser (26-10-2004)
Claire Harvey


Pitcairn Child was 'Held Down By Rapist'

Like father, like son.
Steve and Bandy Christian are big, powerful men with weathered hands, blessed with charming smiles, popular and influential.
They are also both violent child rapists, according to Pitcairn Island public prosecutor Simon Moore.
Randy Christian, 30, is the seventh and final defendant to appear in a child-sex trial involving mole than half the adult men of Pitcairn - one of the world's most remote inhabited island.
Randy Christian's father Steve has already gone on trial, along with Randy's grandfather Len Brown and uncle Dave Brown.
They are Pitcairn's ruling family and descendants of Pitcairn founder Fletcher Christian, who led the 1789 Mutiny on the Bounty.
Steve Christian is the mayor as well as the chief engineer and captain of the most powerful longboat. Randy Christian is chairman of the Internal Committee - the group of men who do all the hard, physical work on Pitcairn - roadworks, manning the longboats to load and unload supplies, and building.
More men of the Christian family are facing extradition to Pitcairn on similar charges.
Randy Christian has pleaded not guilty to 12 charges including child rape, aiding another rapist by holding the victim down and indecently assaulting girls aged between 10 and 13.
His first known indecent assault was against a girl aged as young as seven years, prosecutor Mr Moore said in his opening address yesterday.
That particular girl, 10 years younger than Christian, lost her virginity when he raped her at the age of 10 in a grove of banana palms, he said.
In the worst incident, prosecutors allege a 20-year-old Randy Christian and another man waited until the island. adults were busy milling sugarcane into molasses, then ambushed the girl. The other man, who cannot be named under a court suppression order, allegedly tookt off his T-shirt and used it to gag the girl, then raped her while Randy Christian held her down. The men then swapped positions and Randy Christian raped her - laughing and joking all the time - the girl said on a satellite video- link from Auckland.
It hurt I believe I was crying. I know I was scared," she said. "They were joking between themselves, I just remember them laughing."
The girl admitted that as a teenager, she developed a crush on Randy Christian and wrote him love letters, even while resisting his attempts at indecent assault.
An hour later, his father Steve Christian entered court for the closing address in his trial by Mr Moore.
Through six rapes and four indecent assaults, Steve Christian was also cruel and cold, the prosecutor said.

Adelaide Advertiser (15-10-2004)
Claire Harvey


An Abuser Confesses Pitcairn man admits indecency Charges

"YOU have no shame," said Dave Brown to journalists photographing him yesterday then he went into Pitcairn Island Supreme Court and pleaded guilty to molesting two underage girls.
Brown, now 49, is now the second defendant to plead guilty in the Pitcairn child-sex trial, which involves seven island men charged with a total of 55 counts of rape, indecent aasault and gross indecency.
He confessed to three indecent assaults against two girls, aged 14 and 15, when he was in his early 30s.
Police played a video interview of Brown, now 49, confessing to an ongoing "love" affair with one of the girls, beginning before she turned 13.
On the video, Brown said the relationship was consensual, and that he waited until she was 13 to start having full sexual intercourse, because he believed 12 was the legal age of consent under Pitcairn law.
"The lawbook says 12 or 15 [is the age of consent]," Brown said to British Detective Inspector Rob Vinson in the video, recorded on Pitcairn in 2000.
Asked if underage sex was part of Pitcairn culture, Brown said: "It seems to be (something) that is being done right down through the ages, someone following on from someone else," he said.
"That was back then. You see times are changing now and obviously what we did then was not normal, certainly not acceptable," he said.
The prosecution claims the age of consent on Pitcairn is 16, as under the law of Britain, which rules the island as a dependent territory. Defence lawyers are arguing that the real age of consent is 15, however.
In answer to a question from Insp Vinson about whether he was in love with the girl. Brown answered during the interview: "Yes, I was."
In 2000, the girl complained to police about ongoing sexual abuse by Brown, which she said continued until she left the island at 16, But she has now withdrawn her complaint, and said last week that underage sex was a natural part of the culture on Pitcairn.

Daily Telegraph (9-10-2004)
Claire Harvey


Sex Offender faces Jail- Just 50m from Home

LIFE in prison on Pitcairn Island - just 50 metres from his own home - is the maximum penalty Dennis Christian faces after confessing to the sexual assault of two 12-year-old girls.
With a half-smile, the Pitcairn Island postmaster entered court on the remote Pacific rock yesterday and instructed his lawyers to give the wronged women of Pitcairn what they wanted: a guilty plea.
Inside the stiflingly hot courtroom, Christian, 49, sat silently as defence barrister Allan Roberts entered his admission to three counts of sexual assault against two girls during the 1970s and early 1980s, when Christian was aged in his 20s.
He regularly had sex with one of the girls, from when she was aged 13 until she left the island, aged 14, to go to boarding school.
He also had been charged with a fourth assault against one of the women but this charge was dropped by prosecutors after Christian said he would plead guilty.
It is a major development in the trial which is shaking Pitcairn Island, where the population of 47 is descended from the British sailors who mutinied aboard the Royal Navy ship Bounty in 1788. Police believe Dennis Christian, a descendant of the mutiny leader Fletcher Christian, is one of "the boys", a gang of Pitcairn men who have spent the past 40 years using island girls for sex.
They now face a total of 54 charges, including gang rape and indecent assault on children as young as five. Another six Pitcairn men, now living in Australia and New Zealand, are awaiting extradition on similar charges.
Sources close to the investigation say these 13 defendants are simply -the tip of the iceberg", and believe that Pitcairners have tolerated a culture of underage sex for generations.
Dennis Christian is known by the islanders as "Sambo" for his dark skin. He works a few hours a week as the island postmaster, laughing and chatting with other Pitcairners, including fellow defendants, from behind the counter of the tiny Post Office.
He lives alone, in a small white house bearing a sign that reads "Sambo's Inn", a few hundred metres from the house of his widowed mother Irma, a stalwart of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. A "chuffed" Detective Inspector Rob Vinson, the Kent Police officer in charge of the case, praised the "strong and brave women" who are testifying against the island's men.
"At last somebody now has admitted to some of the events that have been taking place on this island," Mr Vinson said.
After yesterday's hearing, Dennis Christian was granted bail and returned to Sambo's Inn to await news on whether he will move to the newly built six-cell jail, just down the hill.
He will be sentenced when the six remaining trials finish next month.
The British Government is already making arrangements to ship prison guards on to Pitcairn, and public prosecutor Simon Moore said he hoped Dennis Christian's confession would create a domino effect, persuading defendants to plead guilty.

Adelaide Advertiser (6-10-2004)
Claire Harvey


Woman Tells Court Of Rape

PTTCAIRN ISLAND: The man who became mayor of Pitcairn Island treated the women on the remote British territory Like his own "harem", according to a woman giving evidence yesterday.
The woman has accused Steve Christian, 53, of raping her twice.
Christian, the mayor and most prominent member of Pitcairn's permanent population of 47 people, pleaded not guilty to six charges of rape and four of indecent assault on four women over the period 1964 to 1975.
The tiny Pacific island is home to descendants of the 18th century mutineers from the British HMS Bounty.
A woman speaking by videolink from Auckland, New Zealand, yesterday (Sunday Pitcairn time), said that when she was a girl, Christian took her for a ride on his motorbike and raped her.
The second time he allegedly raped her was in one of the island's boats, she said.
Defence lawyers suggested to the woman that she had never had non-consensual sex with Christian.
She denied that and in a statement to police said Christian treated island girls "like we were all his harem".
The trials of three Pitcairn men are under way in two makeshift courtrooms in the island's community hall. In total, seven island men face 55 sex abuse charges dating back up to 40 years.
The trials, being conducted under British law before New Zealand judges, are expected to take six weeks.
Some islanders claimed that if the men were convicted and imprisoned, they would no longer have enough men on the island to crew longboats that were the only way to bring vital supplies to the island from passing freight and cruise ships.
Pitcairn has no airstrip or port.
The Pitcairn Islands are a group of five rocky volcanic outcrops, only the largest of which is inhabited, with a combined area of 47 square kilometres.
They are in the Pacific Ocean midway between New Zealand and Peru.
The trial continues.

The Herald (5-10-2004)


Fantasy Island Or Den Of Iniquity

A PITCAIRN Island man on trial for sex abuse used to act as though young girls were available for him whenever he chose, a prosecutor said in a courtroom on the remote outcrop populated by descendants of the 18th-century Bounty mutineers.
In opening statements yesterday, prosecutors charged that Dave Brown, nicknamed "The Mouth," abused five victims - Including a five-year-old girl and another aged under 13 - in a string of attacks.
He is one of seven men on the Pacific island charged with a total of 55 sex crimes, some dating back 40 years.
His trial began on Thursday, one day after prosecutors opened pro- ceedings in a small community hall for a string of trials which are expected to take up to six weeks.
Brown is accused of assaulting one girl in the island's Seventh Day Adventist church and another during a fishing trip along the island's rugged coast.
All the alleged victims of the sex abuse are testifying via a video link from Auckland, New Zealand.
Brown says he is innocent of the 15 charges of indecent assault and gross indecency.
He is also adamant that the Pitcairn community would rather the world forget about the whole sordid ordeal which has thrust the island into the spotlight. Before his trial began, Brown leaned over the deep-freeze in Pitcairn Island's only shop and half-smiled.
"We don't like reporters here," he said, idly picking up a bag of laundry pegs and turning them over in his hand.
Among the 47-strong community on Pitcairn, the general store's thrice-weekly hour of trade is a strange collection of accused criminals and alleged victims.
Everyone inside this shop, and everyone outside in Adamstown and the surrounding households, is either a victim, a defendant, or has relatives involved in the trial.
Pitcairn Island is a dark Toytown, a miniature world. Everyone is related. A Strong family resemblance runs through the entire community. There are only four main families - Young, Brown, Warren and Christian.
In January, 1790, it became the hideout for nine British sailors fleeing the wrath of the Royal Navy. Master's Mate Fletcher Christian and eight accomplices orchestrated a mutiny in April, 1789, aboard His Majesty's Armed Vessel Bounty.
Many Pitcairners are angry and bitter, and many believe the whole trial is a plot concocted by the British Government to close down the island and save some money.
Others, like Darralyn Griffiths, say the age of consent on Pitcairn has always been understood to be about 12 or 13. The girls were "hot for it", says Griffiths, who like her sister has withdrawn her statement from the prosecution case, saying the acts were consensual.
"I was 13 when I first had sex and I felt shit-hot about it, too," Griffiths says, "I felt like a big lady."
But that's not the story told by two sisters who gave evidence yesterday by video-link from Auckland.
One sister claimed she was repeatedly raped. The other said she was forced to perform oral sex at five years old.
"Everyone thinks Pitcairn is a paradise, but it was sheer hell when I was growing up there," the first woman said.
But the anger on this island is being directed towards the few islanders who are supporting the whole process of the trial - island elders like Tom and Betty Christian. Tom is one of the few island men who police believe was not involved in any abuse. He believes the trials should go ahead.
"It's a big mess," says Tom Christian, "We want it to go away."

Adelaide Advertiser (2-10-2004)
Claire Harvey


Mayor Led Pitcairn's 'Boys', Court Hears

PITCAIRN Island mayor Steve Christian will go on trial today accused of leading "the boys", a group of seven men who allegedly spent 30 years sexually abusing underage girls on the tiny Pacific outcrop.
Sex trial ... Pitcairn's Jay Warren leaves court after a pre-trial hearing. Picture: Claire Harvey
Christian, 53, a direct descendant of Bounty mutiny leader Fletcher Christian, is a charismatic and powerful figure whose influence dominates Pitcairn, population 47.
Elected mayor in 2001, Christian captains the largest longboat on the island, community-owned craft essential for collecting vital supplies from passing cruise ships, and lives in a sprawling hilltop home known as Big Fence, where the "in crowd" of Pitcairn gather each Friday night for drinks.
Today he will walk into Pitcairn Supreme Court to face six charges of rape, including of two victims aged only 12 years, and of four indecent assaults against women and underage girls between 1964 and 1975.
The trial in Pitcairn's ramshackle white wooden courthouse is the culmination of a five-year investigation that has caught the world's attention with its combination of historical infamy, colonial decay and the social dynamics of remote South Pacific island life.
The accused bear the names of the rebel British sailors - Brown, Young, Christian, Warren - who mutinied on His Majesty's Armed Vessel Bounty in April 1789 and fled to Pitcairn Island with their Tahitian lovers.
The defendants are the powerful men of Pitcairn, a whole generation of inter-related males who are believed by prosecutors to have perpetuated a culture of sexual intimidation over the island.
They include Steve Christian's father-in-law, Len Brown, 78, accused of raping one woman twice in 1969 and 1972, and his son Dave Brown, 49, who faces 15 of the most shocking charges.
Dave Brown is accused of two acts of gross indecency against children and 13 indecent assaults against island women and girls between 1970 and 1991, including allegedly putting his penis in the mouth of his youngest victim, aged only five.
Other defendants include Steve Christian's son Randy Christian, 30, who is head of the island's "Internal Committee", which is responsible for public works, and is married with two children.
Conservation Department head and former Island magistrate Jay Warren, 48, island postmaster Dennis Christian, 49, and electrician Terry Young, 45, are also on trial. The men can be legally named for the first time today after Pitcairn judge Russell Johnson lifted a suppression order late yesterday afternoon.
Another six Pitcairn men living in Australia and New Zealand will face charges at a later date.
There is a long-standing culture of young girls being initiated to sex at the age of 12 or 13, one island woman said yesterday.
"The adult men would say the young girls need to be broken in," she said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Steve Christian's wife, Olive, has vowed to offer her full support to the three men in her life facing charges: husband Steve, father Len Brown and brother Dave Brown.
Earlier this week, Olive summoned the island's women to rally behind their men at a public meeting, and invited the international media to hear them "stand up for their guys".
The women said the defendants were guilty only of sleeping with young girls who were "hot for it".
The women also accused police of offering some among them bribes, in the form of victim's compensation, in return for giving evidence.
Yesterday, a furious Detective Inspector Rob Vinson, the British police officer in charge of the case, said this was "complete nonsense".
"The meeting was a blatant attempt to manipulate the media, a last-ditch attempt to try and undermine this investigation," he said.

The Australian (30-9-2004)
Claire Harvey


Underage sex Is Our Culture

THE women of Pitcairn Island are standing by their men.
As one of the world's most remote territories prepares for the trial of seven island men on child sex charges, their wives, daughters, sisters and mothers yesterday gathered in the tiny settlement of Adamstown to declare their innocence.
In this tiny community of 47, everyone has a relative who will go on trial for his freedom tomorrow.
One woman will see her father, son and husband in the dock, accused of participating in what prosecutors say is an ingrained culture of Pitcairn men using young girls for sex. Yes, underage sex has always been part of Pitcairn culture, said three generations of Pitcairn women at yesterday's meeting, but it was consensual.
They said allegations that children as young as five were molested were untrue.
And two island women who initially gave evidence to police said they had withdrawn their statements, claiming investigators had offered them compensation in return for their evidence.
Some of the Pitcairners did not speak at the meeting, but all who attended were lending moral support to the seven defendants and six other Pitcairn men who are being extradited to face additional charges.
In all, the first seven men face 55 charges of rape, gross indecency and indecent assault.
The defendants say they are worried they will not get a fair hearing.
Islander Nadine Warren said the court case, which is to begin tomorrow in the white wooden public hall of Pitcairn Island, could destroy the community.
"None of the women want this to happen," she said.
If the men are convicted and jailed in the newly-built island prison, she said many of their wives and children would desert Pitcairn.
"Anything to save the guys," she said.
The island's culture involved girls starting sex at 11, 12 or 13, said Olive Christian, wife of island Mayor Steve Christian.
"We thought sex was like food at the table, it's hot stuff," she said.
"It takes two to tango," Charlene Warren added.
Charlene, 22, and her sister Darralyn Griffiths, 26, both initially told investigating police they began having sex with adult men while still 12 or 13.
Yesterday they insisted the sex was consensual.
"I was 13 (when I started having sex) and ... I felt like a big lady. I wanted it," Ms Griffiths said.
Her sister, now a mother of four, said she had been told by investigating police officer Karen Vaughan that she would be eligibile for $3730 in compensation. "I was offered some good money for each person that I could name," she said.
Both sisters said they had now withdrawn from the prosecution case.
Their mother, Carol Warren, said she also had been a "wild thing" in her youth, and that when she was 10 a man had attempted to molest her.
"I was probably luckier than some that we have read about in magazines or on the news (overseas)," Carol Warren said.
The women who are still giving evidence are probably confused or deluded, Nadine Christian said.
"I was so surprised there's talk about the five-year- old," she said.
"If there was a five-year- old, people would know. These people are not perverts. People wouldn't stand for a five-year-old being interfered with."

Adelaide Advertiser (29-9-2004)
Claire Harvey


Pitcairn Welcome, Then Child Sex Trial

STRONG, swarthy and shouting a welcome, the men and women of pitcairn Island leap into their long- boat and roar out through the surf of Bounty Bay.
At the bow of the boat is Pawl Warren, a knife strapped to his belt, and glittering with dozens of earrings and a shark-tooth necklace.
They speed out 200m to pull alongside the Braveheart, a private vessel loaded with police, British government officials and journalists.
"Jump across!" Warren bellows, offering two hands to the visitors as the vessels clang together in the swell.
The strangers have come to this tiny speck in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean, population 47, for an event which will change Pitcairn forever - the trial of seven island men on child sex charges.
The islanders, descendants of Bounty mutineer Fletcher Christian and his fellow rebel crewmen, are anxious about the looming trial, and uneasy about the pack of journalists about to invade their home.
"I just can't wait for this whole mess to be over," says island elder Tom Christian, 68, Who is Fletcher Christian's great-great-great-grandson.
"But you are welcome and I hope you have a nice time."
Mr Christian greets the visitors as his fellow islanders unload scores of bags, boxes and passengers from the long- boat to Pitcairn's only form of harbour, a wave-lashed inlet called The Landing.
Deep below, on the seabed just off Bounty Bay, lie the remains of Her Majesty's Armed Vessel Bounty, burnt by the mutineers when they arrived on uninhabited Pitcairn in 1790. After over- throwing Captain William Bligh and setting him adrift in a rowboat in April, 3789, the mutineers hid out on Pitcairn for 18 years before their idyll was discovered by a passing US whaling ship.
In two days, the accused men will go on trial in the Pitcairn Court at Adamstown in the largest trial ever to take place on this remote island, which has no landline telephones, no sewerage system, and no paved roads, airstrip or harbour.
The logistical challenge of staging a trial on this island has fallen to the British Government, which rules Pitcairn as a dependent territory.
Seven Ministry of Defence Police, two detectives from Kent Police and a handfull of British government officials have been joined by 10 Judicial officers engaged in Auckland under a special treaty between the British and New Zealand governments.
The men face 55 charges, including 14 of rape, 37 of indecent assault, and two of gross indecency relating to offences allegedly committed between 1869 and 1999 - part of what prosecutors believe was an ingrained culture of sexual offending involving girls as young as three years.
Their accusers are Pitcairn women - only two of whom are still permanent Pitcairn residents - who will give evidence by satellite video-link from Auckland. Extradition proceedings have begun against four former Pitcairn men living in NZ, one on Norfolk Island and one in Australia.

Adelaide Advertiser (28-9-2004)
Claire Harvey




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