May 11, 2006 – St. John needs closure to the alleged hate crime and rape that occurred last summer and fall, St. John Administrator Julien Harley said Thursday. "Whether there's something or nothing – as long as it's investigated fairly," he said.
Harley said the FBI concluded its investigation into the hate crime issue a while ago. He did not know when.
FBI Special Agent Stephen Kodak said Thursday from his Washington, D.C., office that the FBI finished its "complete" investigation and forwarded the results to the U.S. Justice Department so that agency could make "prosecutorial" decisions.
"I don't know how long it's been sitting at Justice," he said.
Justice Department spokesman Eric Holland said that the Frett case is an "open investigation." He could not be specific as to whether it was the alleged hate crime or the alleged rape. He said he had no further information on any of the incidents.
The answers have been a long time coming. Gov. Charles Turnbull on Dec. 2 sent out a press release that said the federal government's investigation into the alleged hate crime on St. John was to wrap up in two to three weeks. He said he learned this information from Chris Swecker, the assistant director of the Criminal Investigative Division at the federal Attorney General's office.
That was more than five months ago. Since then, there has been no word from any officials about the incidents.
St. John faced unprecedented upheaval last summer and fall when St. John resident Esther Frett and her husband, Jerry, said June 20 that someone had written racial epithets on their car, parked at her house on the island's East End.
Then, on Aug. 30, Frett reported she was raped near her home.
Tensions rose further at an Aug. 30 meeting called to discuss V.I. Water and Power Authority issues and at an Aug. 31 meeting where federal and local law enforcement officials refused to comment on the specifics of their investigations into the racial epithet incident and the alleged rape.
During the early morning hours of Sept. 1, someone set Bob Sells' jeep on fire in front of his Close Reach Imports store at Meada's Mall in Cruz Bay. The same night, someone tried to set fire to Skinny Legs Bar and Restaurant in Coral Bay.
On Sept. 2, Close Reach Imports went up in flames. Arson was suspected in all cases.
Until June, Frett rented the store upstairs from Close Reach Imports for her House of Dolls. Following numerous confrontations between Sells and Frett, Sells was arrested June 3 for allegedly assaulting Frett. That case is still pending, but Sells faces a bench trial set for May 24 in Superior Court.
The alleged hate crime and alleged rape sparked marches, sit-ins at St. John restaurants and shop-ins at Starfish Market that continued through Thanksgiving weekend.
Government House spokeswoman Rina Roebuck did not return a phone call requesting comment.
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