By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York
The reported refusal of the Greater-Accra Regional Police Command to name the alleged victim of sexual assault involving showbiz icon Kwasi Kyei Darkwah, alias KKD, is pretty much standard practice and squarely within the bounds of the law (See “Police Refuse to Name KKD’s Sexual Assault Victim” Starrfmonline.com / Ghanaweb.com 12/29/14). Moreso because legions of women who claim to have been sexually assaulted, whether ultimately proven true or false, are widely known not to report such violent attacks to law-enforcement agencies, thus involuntarily facilitating the perpetuation of this vicious cycle of criminal assault of the highest order.
Consequently, the decision by the police personnel who arrested Mr. Darkwah not to reveal the identity of the latter’s alleged victim while investigations proceed is all-too-appropriate, if also because it empowers future victims of sexual assault, particularly women, to promptly report such cases, with a view to their being protected from the stigma that traditionally attends such incidents.
By the same token, those who argue for the identity of the alleged victim to be disclosed to the media, based their argument on the fact that the woman accusing Mr. Darkwah of rape is reported to be 19 years old and thus not a child or minor, as legally classified. And this group of critics have a point, except that the validity of their argument is promptly and effectively invalidated by the greater need to protect the identity of the socially and politically vulnerable, at least in the eyes of both the law and society.
What is amiss or wrong here is the decision by law-enforcement agents involved in the case not to grant a recognizance discharge – or bail – to Mr. Darkwah, the alleged assailant, while investigations continue, unless it can be demonstrated that Mr. Darkwah is a security risk or has a criminal record of a similar sexual-assault nature. So far, no such evidence has been provided by the Greater-Accra Regional Police Command.
My unstinted support for the right of protection of alleged victims of sexual assault – in particular female victims of sexual assault – notwithstanding, I take strong exception to the description of the alleged victim by Ms. Afia Tengey, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) and Public Affairs Director of the Greater-Accra Regional Police Command, as follows: “Now she is the victim in the case, and I wish that her identity is protected.”
Well, the fact of the matter is that the alleged victim has not been forensically proven a victim as yet; and until a clear-cut, or preponderant, evidence is provided to establish the guilt of Mr. Darkwah, Ms. Tengey’s characterization may well exemplify a clear case of prejudice against the accused. So far, what we have been presented with by the media points to the fact that this is not going to be an open-and-shut case.
In other words, the alleged victim is highly unlikely to cheaply or easily prove her case, unless she can also prove beyond any iota of doubt that her alleged assailant forced her into his African Regent Hotel room in the Airport Residential Area of Accra. We are told that the two had been lodging at the Regent for an unspecified span of time prior to the sexual-assault report. So at this stage, it is a simple case of “her word against his word,” in American legal parlance. It all boils down to the party or individual who is deemed to sound more credible.
Mr. Darkwah’s attorneys have reportedly snorted off the alleged victim’s accusation as one that is “absolutely ridiculous” and utterly devoid of merit. Some observers also believe that the alleged victim must have unsuccesfully attempted to blackmail Mr. Darkwah, in view of the latter’s celebrity status and quite well-known comfortable economic status.
Whatever the real case may be, there is no gainsaying that legions of KKD fans and admirers are studiously following events and hoping and praying that it is all just a misunderstanding of some sort.