Criminal Law

Who?s Lying? The Megan Williams Story

Back in 2007, a huge story erupted when seven white men were accused of raping and torturing Megan Williams, a twenty year-old in West Virginia. These actions were seen as racially motivated. Minority groups, Reverend Al Sharpton and Black Lawyers for Justice supported Megan and tried filing hate-crime charges. Funds, marches and rallies were organized on Megan’s behalf and many joined her cause.

Abuse, Torture and Rape

Megan said her captors, including her then-boyfriend Bobby Brewster, beat her, raped her, forced her to drink urine and eat feces, poured hot wax on her and taunted her with racial slurs. She was rescued after a passerby heard cries from the shed where she was kept and an anonymous caller alerted authorities.

All of the boys plead guilty to the crime and all but one were sent to jail.

Now, two years later, Megan is recanting her story and claims it never happened.

Did Megan Lie?

According to Megan’s attorney, she made up the accusations because she wanted revenge against her boyfriend who had beaten her. Megan is now taking back her accusations out of guilt; she no longer wants to live a lie. "She is recanting the entire incident. She says it did not happen, and she's scared," her lawyer said.[1]

Megan even stabbed herself with a razor to help embellish the story of being tortured. He has urged prosecutors in West Virginia to reevaluate the case.

However, the story isn’t so simple. Brian Abraham, the former Logan County prosecutor who pursued the cases, said authorities realized early in the investigation they couldn’t rely on Megan’s statements, who was mentally “slow” and tended to embellish and exaggerate details.

The seven defendants were convicted on their own statements and physical evidence. "If she's going to say that she made it all up, that's absurd," Abraham said. "This looks like another attempt to generate more publicity."[2]

Why the defendants pleaded guilty to something they did not do boggles the attorneys and authorities.

Was Megan Forced to Lie?

Megan’s lawyer told reporters that Megan explained that during the case, certain people were controlling her and influencing her. In prior interviews, Megan acknowledged that she had been mistreated but said that her mother made her embellish the story for exposure and financial gain. Megan told the newspaper that she was afraid of her mother. Since the trial, Megan’s mother died.

Reverend Sharpton suggested that this should be handled delicately, citing Megan’ "psychological issues" and is encouraging prosecutors to re-examine the case.

What Will Happen to Megan?

Megan could face legal consequences if she is found to have fabricated the story. Perjury, or lying in a court of law is a punishable crime. However, Megan’s psychological issues may influence the way she is treated.

Lessons Learned

This case received much media attention when the event occurred. Many people supported Megan and aligned themselves against the defendants. However, now, the situation looks different.

Were the defendants forced to confess to a crime that they didn’t commit? Did the police force them to confess? Furthermore, if the crime didn’t actually occur, where did the evidence to commit the defendants come from?

While Megan has recanted her accusations, the cops still believe the rape and abuse occurred.

Why Would Megan Lie About Lying?

According to authorities, Megan Williams has the mental capacity of child, and therefore can’t think logically and reasonably. It’s possible that she’s being manipulated by her caregivers, or else having a tough time dealing with what happen to her; coping with the assault itself, losing her mother and now suffering financial problems. It’s possible she is looking for attention by recapturing the months after her rescue where she was provided attention and money.

What Happens If Her Story is a Lie?

If, at some point it’s found out that Megan lied, she could be subject to criminal fines and potentially jail time. She could also be sued by her alleged attackers, subjecting her to even more fines. In the meantime, people are confused and not sure who to believe.

Question For Your Attorney

  • What do I do if I have been wrongfully accused of a crime?
  • What do I do if I think someone I know has been wrongfully accused of a crime?
  • What should I do if my daughter or son recants on their story of being victimized after proceedings have occurred? Should I believe them? Is there some psychological issue at play?

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