FBI Concludes Investigation of Alleged Summer Hate Crimes

St. John residents have waited for months for news on the FBI’s investigation into alleged hate crimes that occurred on the island last summer.

The investigation has been completed, but no further information is being released, an FBI spokesperson said Tues-day, May 23.

“The FBI concluded its investigation in December of 2005, at which time it was forwarded to the Department of Justice Civil Rights Unit for prosecutive opinion,” said Harry Rodriguez, FBI San Juan media representative. “As far as the investigative portion, yes, we’ve concluded our investigation.”

The U.S. Department of Justice is still looking into the FBI’s report, according to spokesperson Eric Holland.

“The investigation is still ongoing,” he said Wednesday, May 24. “At this time, I have no comment regarding the case itself. Officially, we have no comment.”

There is no time frame or statute of limitations for the department’s investigation, according to Holland.

According to an unofficial court source, the results of the FBI’s investigation are not being released to the public, because they are being used in a current criminal proceedings.

The U.S. Attorney General’s office issued a press release in early December 2005 stating information regarding the case would be available “within the next two to three weeks.”

No Information Is Released
No information was released until last week, despite the FBI’s conclusion of its investigation nearly five months ago.

“We have no further information about the investigation in that case,” public information officer James Carroll told St. John Tradewinds in January. “We have indicated that there was an investigation into the allegations of bias, and we have outlined the process we must complete. But that is as far as we can go.”

A series of incidents which prompted a number of protests and sit-ins began last June, when East End resident Esther Frett and her husband Jerry, reported that racial slurs and threats had been written on their vehicle and the gate to their home.

Frett then reported on August 30 that she had been kidnapped, raped and thrown into the ocean near her home by three masked men. Although little information about the alleged attack was ever confirmed by authorities, the attackers were rumored to be white.

Two days after the alleged rape, Cruz Bay business owner Bob Sells’ Jeep was set on fire following a meeting between law enforcement officials and enraged St. John residents at the lack of information provided on the rape.

Frett had previously accused Sells, a neighboring business tenant at Meada’s Plaza in Cruz Bay, of shoving her and using a racial slur. Sells, who is charged with felony intimidation for the alleged shoving incident, faces trial June 19.

Arsons Followed Rape Report
An attempted arson also occurred that evening at Skinny Legs, a Coral Bay bar. That fire did not stay ignited because diesel fuel was used as an accelerant, according to the V.I. Fire Department investigation.

The following night, Sells’ Meada’s Plaza store, Close Reach Imports, was gutted by what officials determined to be an arson fire.

V.I. Police Department Commissioner Elton Lewis has previously stated the three arsons were related.

Federal officials have not confirmed rumors about the possible involvement of illegal immigrant smugglers using the East End beach where the alleged rape reportedly occurred.