horrendous child sex abuse
‘It appears he had a very revolving door’: Allegations against Nova Scotia-based Buddhist leader rising
By Ross Lord, Global National Atlantic Correspondent, Global News
Close to six months.
That's how much time elapsed between the moment a woman contacted Winnipeg police in January and when investigators were able to formally charge city Coun. Russ Wyatt with sexual assault — a charge Wyatt has denied.
In the Wednesday news conference in which Winnipeg police announced the charge to media and the public, Const. Rob Carver explained that time was spent in complex investigations — detailed interviews conducted by expert investigators and especially the time-consuming lab analysis of forensic evidence that Winnipeg police can't do in-house.
"Unfortunately, this is not outside the norm for sexual assault investigations," Carver told reporters at the time. "The delay in sexual assault charges is almost always based on getting lab results back .… In this case, I can tell you that that information was not provided to the Winnipeg Police Service until yesterday."
That's not good enough. Winnipeg is the capital of Manitoba, the largest city between Toronto and Edmonton, and should have its own forensic lab that is able to turn information around in days. This is dragging out victimization and thereby making it harder to recover from.
To Tanya Busch, it's a familiar conundrum. The 24-year-old Winnipeg woman says only about five minutes passed from the moment she was sexually assaulted in her apartment two years ago and when she contacted police to report it.
But she had to wait two painful months until police laid a charge against the man, who lived in the same building as Busch.
"You're really kept in the dark," Busch said. "I think it's a misconception that after you report, you are going to feel like you're in control. But really, as soon as you've finished reporting and as soon as you've finished, that's the last time that you're ever going to be in charge of what's going on."
She described it as a sense of "constant anxiety." "The first two weeks, I was scared to leave the house alone. I needed somebody with me at all times," she recalled. "My friends would drive me to work or hold my hand and walk me to work, walk me down to the doors of my building."
"I thought, what if they don't believe me?" she said. "What if his story is better than mine?"
Busch said the police and Crown representative she worked with were kind and understanding, but as her case wound its way through investigations and the court, she felt herself just wanting the ordeal to be over. It took two years until the man involved took a plea deal and was deported.
"To me, it's really understandable that some people would quit," she said. "The fear that you're going to be forgotten about, or that they're not really understanding what you're going through, is really prevalent."
Busch didn't drop her case, and she said she hopes her story helps other victims find the strength to come forward.
"I didn't, I think, because I wanted to prove a point. Maybe that's because I'm stubborn or hard-headed, but I didn't want somebody to think it was just OK to do that to me, or to anybody," she said.
"I really just didn't want to become another statistic."
'Need to be resolved'
According to sex assault and legal experts, delays like those Carver and Busch described aren't unique as victims of sexual assault move through the legal system, from police interactions to court dates.
"There's so many parts to it [and] I'm sure they are doing their best," said Zilla Jones, a Winnipeg defence lawyer who said recent sex assault cases she's worked on have moved slowly, too.
"But we just all need to keep in mind that these cases are stressful for people and they need to be resolved as quickly as they can."
During Wednesday's press conference, Carver said police can't lay charges until they have reasonable and probable grounds to believe the offence occurred.
In sex crime investigations, investigators have to conduct very careful interviews with the person making the complaint and then move on to interviewing witnesses and suspects, he said.
Winnipeg police also have to send lab evidence to be tested by the RCMP, which takes time too, he said. In the Wyatt case, he said investigators couldn't move forward until the results were returned.
Once charges are laid, Jones said lawyers also try to access phone records or social media histories of people involved — often essential in a sexual assault case, where there may be a lack of other evidence.
That means going through outside organizations like phone companies or Facebook, and that can add time, too. "I've had cases where it's taken almost a year to get videos off Facebook that people have deleted," she said.
The cases move through court differently as well, she added. They can be more adversarial, for instance, and unlike in many other types of cases, sexual assault victims may not be required to testify during preliminary inquiries.
Lawyers may argue about whether it's necessary for the victim to speak in the preliminary, and that can slow things down, she said. "It's a very unwieldy process that often drags things out at that stage," she said.
'You want to see resolution'
Nicole Chammartin, executive director of Winnipeg's Klinic Community Health centre, which offers support for sexual assault victims, said counsellors always warn victims that the process will take time.
"It's just another piece. If you imagine any of us that has gone through a trauma and has decided to do something, you want to see resolution," she said. "It drags out the entire experience for them. It drags out the amount of time that they're engaged in this. It may make it harder for them to move forward and get closure."
Busch says she was given that advice by her Klinic counsellor when she first visited the centre to talk about her assault. The truth, she said, is that it's impossible to mentally prepare yourself for the process.
"Before I was actually in this situation, the hopes that the justice system will take care of it are a lot higher," she said. "But the reality is, it could take years and years and years."
For other victims, she advises relying on a support network of friends or family. In the absence of that, go see Klinic, she said. And she offers a last piece of advice.
There are at least three claims of child sexual abuse against Te Awanuiārangi Black which are irrefutable, his widow says.
Anihera Zhou Black also said today she had received two more disclosures about abuse by her late husband since she accused him of being a paedophile in an extraordinary Facebook post a week ago.
Police are looking into her claims, which also include an allegation that Awanui Black was part of a child sex ring in Tauranga.
Awanui, a Bay of Plenty Regional councillor and chairman of the Tauranga Moana Iwi Leaders Group, died aged 48 in November 2016.
In an interview with TVNZ's Marae broadcast today, Anihera was asked about any proof to back her allegations of paedophilia. She said she had heard of first-hand disclosures from a number of sources who had found it very difficult to be believed because of Awanui's status as a councillor and Māori leader.
"We did the [Facebook] video to give them permission that it's okay to come forward, that you will be believed. "People have come and told their stories. They are not allegations. It is their truth."
Of those disclosures, three were irrefutable, she said. "Just because we choose to protect those people it doesn't meant that that's not true."
One of the people had who spoken to her about abuse by Awanui was 8 years old at the time. She did not know how old the other two people were at the time they were abused, but said it was a similar age.
Another two approaches had been made to her since the Facebook post by people who said they had been abused. One was an individual, and the other was a group of people.
Asked about evidence for a sex ring in Tauranga, Anihera said she had found images on Awanui's computer or mobile phone.
"Some of the warped things that I've discovered ... on some of Awa's devices are pictures of him and others in naked positions and it's obvious in some ways that they've been staged for an audience. It's not just something to keep on your phone. One particular photo would be a teenager, a teenage girl."
Anihera also said that she was initially told by police that there could be no investigation of her allegations because Awanui had died, and they could only offer support to the victims.
Awanui's spokesman Willie Te Aho told Marae it was wrong that Awanui's memory was "being besmirched in this way". "I absolutely don't believe that he was a paedophile," he said. "I don't accept those allegations at all."
Te Aho said he was disappointed that hugely damaging claims were able to made against Awanui outside of a court.
"I'm disappointed with the law ... that allows people to make outrageous statements, untested, after a person has died, where they do not have an opportunity to respond and to go through the rigours of a trial to prove their innocence. That's exactly what has happened in this situation."
It's his wife, Te Aho! Do you think she's enjoying this? Most padeophiles are very popular, very outgoing, and very well liked. Don't revictimize the victims, they have been through enough.
The man, whom Stuff cannot name in order to protect the identity of the victim, was burdened by guilt about what he had done to the girl - his god-daughter.
First, the 38-year-old sought help through counselling before he fronted up to police and made a full confession about his crime, which was committed two years ago and while the girl was asleep in her own home.
To this day, the young victim remains oblivious to what happened but her parents are aware of the defendant's prosecution.
At Monday's hearing in the New Plymouth District Court, prosecutor Jacob Bourke said a jail term would ordinarily be sought for this type of offending but due to the offender's personal circumstances it would not be on this occasion.
Lawyer Josie Mooney said a sentence of intensive supervision was recommended and her client, who previously pleaded guilty to the indecent assault, was interested in getting more help.
"It was his reason for going to police," she said.
The summary of facts outlined how the defendant used to regularly socialise with the victim's parents and the girl "trusted and loved him".
In August 2016, the man was at the family's home, where he had been drinking alcohol and smoking cannabis. The defendant stayed overnight and went to sleep in the lounge.
When he got up to go to the bathroom, he saw the victim lying asleep on top of her bed, with no blankets covering her. The man went into her room and indecently assaulted the girl.
"Realising what he did was wrong, the defendant quickly returned to the lounge," the summary of facts said. The girl did not wake up or stir during the abuse.
"Nothing was said the following morning and the defendant has ceased all contact with the victim and her family due to what he did."
Following the incident, the man approached WellStop, a service which helps address sexually harmful behaviour, to get counselling.
During his therapy, he decided to go to police, where he agreed to make a statement with the full knowledge it could result in him facing criminal charges.
Judge Chris Sygrove said the defendant had suffered a high price for the "foolish and fleeting" offending. "It's quite clear that this offending would have never come to light except for your honesty," the judge said.
The man was sentenced to 12 months' intensive supervision.
A first strike warning was previously issued against him, but police did not seek his registration as a child sex offender.
A child sex offender banned from owning or possessing a cellphone was apprehended after he used a cellphone to call police.
He was released from prison earlier this year after serving part of a one year and 11 month jail sentence for various offences, including arranging to meet the fictitious young person for a sexual purpose, distributing objectionable material and offering to supply methamphetamine.
One of his release conditions was that he must not own or possess a cellphone.
On May 26 Wellington police received a call from Kight about an unrelated investigation.
A few days later police spoke to Kight about this. Kight said he did not have a cellphone and had made the call to police on a friend's phone via hands free.
Last month Hawke's Bay police received information that Kight had sent an abusive text message to a local family on the same cellphone number.
Police discovered he had been using the phone for a number of weeks. It had been used to send texts stating "It's Mike here" and referred to his moving to Napier to live in Salvation Army housing.
When he was arrested at Hawke's Bay Airport on June 8 police found a large knife in his luggage. They also found a methamphetamine pipe and another cellphone and a computer.
Kight, who has been in custody since being arrested, appeared in Napier District Court on Monday and pleaded guilty to charges of providing false or misleading information to the child sex register team, possessing a weapon and possession of a methamphetamine utensil and three charges of breaching his release conditions.
Kight's lawyer Scott Jefferson said there was "nothing sinister" in his possessing the knife. "It wasn't presented or waved around, or anything of that nature," Jefferson said.
Judge Athur Tompkins agreed with Jefferson that the greatest concern was Kight's continued breach of conditions, and noted that he had been convicted for possessing a phone in April.
Tompkins asked Kight what programmes he had attended while in prison, and specifically why he had not attended an adult sex offender programme. Kight said he had been told he would not have enough time in prison to complete it after he had been sentenced.
He told the judge he intended to sign up for psychological counselling and possibly a sexual abuse programme when he was next released.
Judge Tompkins sentenced Kight to three months in jail. He will be subject to eleven special conditions on his release.
Kight's last jail sentence was imposed in Wellington District Court last November. His offending involved talking to another male on dating app Grindr talking about sexually abusing boys aged seven to nine, and for distributing child sex abuse images.
Kight, who spent months in custody following his arrest last year, had been the subject of a covert police operation from a unit that targets online sexual exploitation of children.
A UK woman has been sentenced to prison for murdering her father and burying him in the garden—but only after she found his stash of child pornography that included images of herself.
UK authorities only learned about the 2006 murder in January when 63-year-old Coombes walked into a police station and confessed, reports the Guardian. Authorities then uncovered the body of World War II veteran Kenneth Coombes in Barbara Coombes’ garden in Greater Manchester.
He would have been 87 when his daughter hit him in the head with a shovel, then slit his throat with its blade, reports the BBC.
Though Coombes said she feared her father would hurt or kill her, Judge Timothy King didn’t believe she acted in self-defense. The sentence he handed down, however, took into account what he referred to as “40 years of extreme mental, physical and sexual abuse.”
Coombes said her father allowed men to take explicit photos of her as a girl and went on to rape her hundreds of times, possibly fathering a child who died shortly after birth. She said she finally snapped after discovering explicit photos of naked infants, including herself.
King said PTSD and severe depression clouded her judgment but suggested she only confessed because a housing official had become suspicious of her father’s whereabouts, per the Manchester Evening News. Coombes fraudulently claimed $250,000 in benefits for her father before confessing.
A MAN who raped and repeatedly sexually abused a 12-year-old boy has been jailed for eight years.
Desmond Francis will only be released at the half way point of the sentence if the parole board think it is safe to do so.
When the 57-year-old father-of-six is eventually freed, which could be after the whole eight years, he will be on licence for an extra 12 months and must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
The South African was living in Trowbridge when he carried out the abuse on the youngster.
Francis, who gave the court an address in Upper Weston, Bath, pleaded guilty to rape of a child under 13 and sexual assault. Swindon Crown Court heard that he used 'acts of grooming' to get the schoolboy alone so he could carry out the abuse.
When he was confronted with what the lad claimed, he said he would get help and called the NSPCC, who contacted the police.
Tessa Hingston, prosecuting, said when the child told officers about what had happened he only said the defendant had carried out sex acts on him. But when Francis was questioned he accepted it had gone further that the lad said, and that he had also got him to perform the same acts on him.
Mark Sharman, defending, said "He stands before the court in respect of the lead offence precisely because he made that admission. It may be had he not been so candid that would not be on the indictment. He is 57 with no previous convictions.
"It happened over a short period of time and he desisted of his own way. He is an intelligent and educated man and he struggled to explain how he behaved in the way he did. "It is out of character. Mr Francis has worked on the night shift in what can be described as an institution for boys. There is no suggestion of any impropriety in that. He removed himself from that."
He said that Francis described what he had done as 'abhorrent' and knew he must got to prison for it. Mr Sharman said after a terrible upbringing at school in South Africa Francis' problems were exacerbated serving in the armed forces.
Jailing him, Judge Robert Pawson said "As you, I think, appreciate, this is a serious offence. "It may not involve force or immediate fear of force. In this case your culpability is rooted in your exploitative behaviour. There was acts of grooming."
Following the case an NSPCC spokesman said: “This offender subjected his young victim to a catalogue of appalling abuse and it is right that he has faced justice for his actions.
“Child sexual abuse can have a devastating impact and the NSPCC’s Letting the Future In programme, run from the charity’s Swindon service centre, provides counselling and support to survivors of this awful crime.”
Any young person can contact Childline on 0800 1111 or childline.org.uk. Adults concerned about a child’s safety can contact the NSPCC Helpline 0808 800 5000 or nspcc.org.uk. Both are free, confidential, and open 24/7.
A teenager who tricked children into performing humiliating sex acts on themselves - and make their mums watch - has walked free from court.
William Powner bullied, blackmailed and intimidated his nine victims, some as young as 12, so they felt forced to engage in sexual activity and send him pictures and videos of the intimate acts.
Powner, of Fitzwaller Road, Woolston, Warrington, was just 13 when he began committing his cyber sex crimes, was 17 upon his conviction, and was 18 when he was sentenced today.
Powner, who was recently diagnosed with autism and Asperger's syndrome, avoided an immediate jail term, but was made the subject of a 10 year Sexual Harm Prevention Order that means his behaviour will be monitored by the authorities.
Powner used Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat to snare his victims, with police estimating he was in touch with up to 85 separate children, Chester Crown Court heard.
"The suspect will engage in conversation and quickly turn it sexual.
"Requests are made for exposed chest and face shots, then footage of the victims’ penis and in return and only when this has been done will she return the ‘favour’ and show her face and body.
"There are many little comments of confidence, flattery and it can be seen that this is being done to ‘hook the victim in’."
Once the victim had shown their genitalia or performed a sex act on camera, Mr Parry said, Powner turned "nasty".
He would tell his victim the footage was recorded and he knew where they lived, and that if they did not do what he said the footage would be shared with teachers, parents, bullies, and friends.
Mr Parry added: "In a number of the files, the suspect coerces the victim to stand naked in the room, open their bedroom door and to call their mum up so he can watch it happen. The victims’ body language is completely revealing that he is now acting under extreme duress due to the threats.
"In another, the victim is made to carry his device downstairs, and whilst still naked, go outside into the back garden."
Powner, who had no previous convictions, was also found to have a collection of indecent images of children, with 110 of the most serious Category A movie and photos, 137 in Category B and 73 in Category C.
He pleaded guilty to:
Seven counts of causing or inciting the sexual exploitation of a child aged 13 to 17
One count of causing or inciting the sexual exploitation of a child aged under 13
Three counts of attempting to arrange/facilitate the commission of a child sex offence
Three counts of taking an indecent photograph or pseudo-photograph of a child
Three counts of making an indecent photograph or pseudo-photograph of a child
Two counts of causing a child aged 13 to 15 to watch a sexual act
Two counts of distributing an indecent photograph or pseudo-photograph of a child
One count of blackmail
One count of disclosing private sexual photographs and films with intent to cause distress
One count of possession of an indecent photograph or pseudo-photograph of a child
One count of possession of a prohibited image of a child
The charges date between April 1, 2014, through to December 2017.
Judge Roger Dutton told Powner: "Over a particularly lengthy period, you used social media in the worst possible way. "...from the privacy of your own home, you dominated, threatened and had a very serious impact on the lives of nine youngsters.
"You terrorised them, exploited them and their fear of what might happen if they didn't comply with what you wanted. ...this is a timely reminder to all parents to ensure one knows precisely what their offspring is doing, who he or she is contacting and for what purpose."
Judge Dutton, the Recorder of Chester, said sending Powner to an adult prison would "achieve nothing and not address the real issues."
Isn't the 'real issue' preventing him from destroying more children in the future? Wouldn't prison help achieve that? Are there not programs and psychologists in prison that would help him address his issues? It seems the recorder is far more interested in taking care of Powner than in stopping his abuse of children.
And he said it was "very surprising indeed" that the Woolston teen, had only recently been diagnosed with autism and Asperger's Syndrome.
Powner was handed a Youth Rehabilitation Order, for a maximum of three years, and a curfew which is to be observed from 6pm until 6am.
Ben Knight, defending, described it as "a tragedy" that Powner's autism "had been overlooked all these years, and is only being diagnosed now". Powner, who displayed characteristics of "compulsive and obsessive behaviour" had been "failed by agencies including schools and his GP", the barrister said.
He added that Powner had been bullied at school and that it was "impressive how he coped".
Mr Knight said: "Putting William Powner in prison will fix nothing for anybody. "...he sees his future as effectively obliterated. His ambitions he sees as null and void - it will impact on his future for the rest of his life."
Yes, but how many innocent children's lives will be impacted?
A legal anomaly means a Pembrokeshire councillor who has been convicted of child sex abuse and sentenced to prison for 18 years is still being paid for his job at the council.
David Boswell, 58, from Pembroke Dock was sentenced last week after being found guilty of raping a young girl and abusing another. The former mayor of Pembroke has 28 days to appeal the decision.
He has refused to resign from his role as councillor and the council is unable to remove him during the appeal period. As he remains an active councillor they must also continue to pay him his £13,600 a year salary or they may face legal action.
Children’s charity NSPCC said they are outraged by the situation.
Boswell was convicted of appalling sex offences against children and it is right that he now faces many years behind bars where he cannot harm others. It is wrong that someone convicted of sexual crimes against children can continue to serve as an elected official for any period of time and we support a change to the law to ensure situations like this are not repeated.
– NSPCC SPOKESPERSON
The Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) is urging the government to change the legislation as soon as possible to avoid this happening again in the future.
The issue in question is a legal anomaly in the current framework that needs to be urgently addressed. The power to amend the legislation and change the criteria for when a councillor may and may not remain in post is within the remit of the National Assembly and therefore the Welsh Government.
– WLGA SPOKESPERSON
Pembrokeshire County Council said the seat of Pembroke St Mary North will be declared vacant as soon as legislation permits.
A man was today facing jail after being caught with a massive haul of child abuse images that a sheriff described as “the most appalling material I have ever encountered”.
Jeffrey Underwood amassed a collection of almost 20,000 still images and videos depicting horrific sexual abuse of children of kids as young as three and women carrying out sex acts with horses and dogs.
Graphic descriptions of some of the images – too obscene to print – were read out after Underwood admitted two charges committed over the span of more than three-and-a-half years.
A sheriff warned Underwood he faces jail when he returns for sentencing next month and said: “I come across this type of case regularly – to say this material is more extreme is a significant statement.”
Fiscal depute Nicola Gillespie told Dundee Sheriff Court that officers raided Underwood’s flat close to Dundee city centre in October last year.
She said: “Officers seized a laptop, an external hard drive, USB stick and a tablet. It was analysed by cyber crime officers. In total they found 19,917 still images and nine videos of indecent images of children. There were also 1183 extreme pornography images and one video.
“He appears to have been actively carrying out searches for children, particularly young children.”
Underwood, 48, of Bonnethill Court, Dundee, pleaded guilty on indictment to possessing indecent images of children between March 2014 and October 2017 and possessing extreme pornography between April 4 2016 and October 13 2017.
Defence solicitor Paul Parker Smith said Underwood was a “lonely and isolated” man. He added: “He has never been in trouble before but now he finds himself charged with two very serious offences.”
Sheriff Alastair Brown deferred sentence until next month for social work background reports and released Underwood on bail meantime.
He said: “What is described is some of the most appalling material I have ever encountered. Every one of these photos and videos represents the actual abuse of a real child. When you look for this material and use it you create a market and in that way you contribute to that abuse taking place.”
Underwood was also placed on the sex offenders register pending sentencing.
On Tuesday, Chennai woke up to the news that a 11-year-old child had been sexually assaulted by multiple men at a gated community in the Ayanavaram area. Seventeen alleged perpetrators ranging from a 66-year-old liftman to many security guards in their twenties were arrested by the All Women’s Police station in the locality on Monday. Shock swept across the city over the sheer impunity of the crime.
The gated community where the survivor Priya* lives has at least 350 houses, divided into multiple blocks. Reports suggested that Priya, who was hearing impaired, was raped first by the liftman who often cornered her when she would come back from school. He then began to invite other handymen and security guards, all on contracts, to harass the young girl. Sedatives were allegedly administered to the girl. According to the police, the minor had been subjected to this abuse for the last 7 months. She was even filmed as the men sexually assaulted her and was later blackmailed with the video.
It was when her older sister returned home from outside the city that the girl opened up. Her horrified family rushed to the police station to give a complaint on Sunday.
"They even threatened the child at knife point," confirms E Rajeshwari, Inspector (Law and Order) at the Ayanavaram station. She was part of the team that arrested the 17 men. "This is the worst crime this world has seen yet, as far as I am concerned. Few of them raped her; some have fondled her during this act. Some others have sexually harassed her, while others have watched the assault video. They are all guilty because not one of them tried to stop this brutality. They will all be punished," she says angrily.
Amongst the 17 men, three of them are in their 60s, four in their 50s, three over 40 and others in their 30s and 20s.
They have been booked under sections 6 (punishment for aggravated penetrative sexual assault), 10 (punishment for aggravated sexual assault) and 12 (punishment for sexual harassment upon a child) of the POCSO Act and sections 307 (attempt to murder) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.
According to police sources, 18 contractual workers were picked up from the flat and brought to the Chennai Police Commissioner’s office in Vepery on Monday. Priya, cowering in fear, then identified 17 of them as they stood in front of her.
"They had got wind of the complaint which was filed on Sunday and several were already in hiding. We fished them out and brought them in front of the girl," says the Inspector.
At the police station, even as the media waited for more details, members of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) were seen leaving in a huff.
"The police didn't even inform the Child Welfare Committee despite such a brutal crime taking place in the city," says Sheila Charles Mohan, member of the CWC. "The child needs immediate counselling after such an incident. But the bigger issue here is that this crime cannot be isolated. If this one child has admitted to what happened, imagine how many more will be there silently suffering?" she questions.
A cook employed at one of the houses in the gated community where this horror unfolded says that there are many isolated spots in the building which the accused could have misused.
"The gym on the sixth floor, the terrace and a common hall that stretches across the sixth floor are all completely empty. People can access the hall from blocks A, B and C. I've seen the girl playing with her cycle near the lift many times," Meena*, the cook, told TNM.
When shown pictures of the accused, she swiftly named five of them and alleged that one of the security officers was known for his inappropriate behaviour with women. "We are really tensed after this information came out. We all have children and if this can happen to people in these high rise buildings, what will happen to us?" she asks.
On Tuesday afternoon, angry women from the neighbourhood gathered near the building demanding that the 17 men be hanged to death.
“If left to us, we will murder them with our bare hands," says Chitra, who was leading the group of Ayanavaram residents. "How can they do this to a small child? We don't want this to happen anywhere else, but the people staying in the building are not sharing any information with us. They have blocked us out," she adds.
Residents of the gated community had formed a physical barrier at the gate, ensuring that no outsider entered the apartments. Their fear of security guards was evident, as women residents were seen manning the gates and not a single guard was in sight.
TNM contacted over 10 residents on the phone. Several of them refused to talk to the media, claiming they were under police orders to not discuss the matter as it was under investigation.
But a few who did talk admitted they were stunned by the incident. "I can't believe this happened here. We live in a gated community with security. What more can we do?" asks a resident incredulously. "We just want to be safe now," she adds.
The CWC, however, points out that this is not the time for residents to retreat in shock. "Every child in the building must be asked about sexual abuse," says Sheila. "We must find out if there are more victims before it is too late."
Good luck finding lawyers
Even as those living in the apartment are trying to come in terms with the horrific incident, the city is brimming with anger. Two of the accused were attacked at the City Civil Court in the city by lawyers. The Madras Advocates Association has meanwhile announced that none of its members will represent the accused.