Booted pageant contestant could take legal action - Lawyer
Following outrage from the public, Spartan Health Club, the franchise holder of the Miss Jamaica World beauty pageant, has decided to bar controversial figure Shaneke Williams from continuing in the 2017 edition of the pageant.
The revelation was made via Instagram on Wednesday by Spartan's managing director, Mickey Haughton-James, who stated that the organisers of the competition were not aware that Williams had faced criminal charges.
"I was totally unaware that the Shaneke Williams, who was in the line-up of contestants, was involved in any criminal trial or any type of scandal whatsoever. To the best of my knowledge, neither did any of the other judges," he said in the public statement.
"I had a very long meeting with Shaneke. I made the point that while she may see the Miss Jamaica World pageant as a platform to make a statement and redeem her reputation, that would be selfish if it was going to be at the expense of her fellow contestants, sponsors, past winners, and the pageant itself."
In 2015, Williams was charged with aiding and abetting rape and sexual touching of a minor. The case involved former Jamaica Labour Party councillor, Don Creary, who was charged with rape. Both were freed of all charges earlier this year after the complainant indicated she did not wish to proceed with the case.
However, in light of the most recent development regarding the decision taken by the Miss Jamaica World franchise holder, attorney-at-law, Christopher Townsend believes that Williams could take legal action if she so pleases.
Townsend pointed out that having not been convicted of a crime, Williams is seen as an innocent woman in the eyes of the law and should be able to live her life as such.
"To the best of my knowledge, she was never convicted of anything, and so it remains an allegation against her. Certainly there would be room in my mind for action to be taken (against the franchise holder). Bringing the competition into disrepute solely on the basis of a mere allegation made against her, is as if she is being punished for something that never was," he explained.
"She was never convicted, and so it remains an allegation, and the rule of law says that you are in fact innocent until proven guilty. What is the sense of me being innocent if I am going to be treated differently?"
Never found guilty
Popular entertainer Ninja Man agreed.
The artiste, who has had his fair share of run-ins with the law, said Williams should have been given the opportunity to represent her country as she was never found guilty of any crime.
"There is no way that this woman should come out of the competition. She was charged, she was never found guilty. So what evidence people have to say this woman was guilty of what people are accusing her of," he said. "If somebody go through rape and know and feel that agony, they will want to see the accused get their just reward."
Support for Williams has been few and far apart as many persons were happy about Wednesday's decision by the franchise holder.
Artiste manager Shelly Curran was one such person. Curran pointed out that while the crime is an alleged one, the Miss Jamaica World pageant is not the platform for Williams to use to 'tell her side of the story'. She also called on the franchise holder of the pageant to make haste in implementing a process of properly vetting the contestants who enter the national pageant, as it is necessary to prevent cases like this in the future.