A British woman was sentenced to 8.5 years in prison for false sexual harassment

LONDON (AP) – A woman who falsely claimed she was drugged, raped and forced into prostitution was sentenced to more than eight years in prison on Tuesday in a case that has fueled racial tensions in Britain.

Eleanor Williams, 22, revealed in a Facebook post shared more than 100,000 times in May 2020 that she had been beaten, abused and trafficked by South Asian men, sparking months of anger, fear and vandalism in her hometown. in Barrow. -in-Furness, Cumbria.

Williams was convicted of perverting the course of justice by a jury at Preston Crown Court in January.

At the time of the Facebook post, police suspected that Williams’ wild allegations of rape and sex trafficking abroad were fabricated, and that he had beaten himself with a hammer to back up his claims.

Judge Robert Altham said he could not explain Williams’ motive, but said the charges were a “complete fabrication” based on true incidents in which men, sometimes of South Asian descent, exploited teenage girls by grooming them with gifts and booze. and drugs before they are abused.

“I’m sure he chose to lie about Asian men because he modeled his lies on other nationally prominent cases,” Altham said. “He considered his prospects of belief greater if they were based on cases already in the public consciousness.”

Three of the accused told authorities that they tried to take their own lives when they were suspected.

Williams claimed that business owner Mohammed Ramzan took care of her from the age of 12 and took her to Amsterdam, where she was forced to have sex for money and sold at auction.

Police later discovered that while Williams was in the Netherlands, Ramzan’s bank card was being used at a home in Barrow. Her claims that he took her to Blackpool, threatened to kill her and where she was brutally assaulted by multiple men fell apart when footage showed she was there alone watching YouTube in her hotel room, Altham said. :

Ramzan said he has received countless death threats from around the world on social media. He was so desperate that he tried to kill himself in front of his family, had his car windows smashed and his once-successful businesses destroyed, Altham said.

“I’m not sure how I and my family will recover from this,” Ramzan told reporters outside court. “The mud is sticking and I’m afraid it might take a while.”

The worst turmoil in three decades rocked Barrow, Altham said, with the town divided between those who believed police were complicit in covering up Williams’ allegations and others who feared vigilantes. The local paper was boycotted, and later folded, after it was reported that Williams was under investigation for perverting the course of justice.

Barrister Louise Blackwell QC said Williams insisted her allegations were true.

In a letter to the court, Williams issued an apology of sorts, saying:

He said he had never incited any unrest in his community, but Altham said it was foreseeable that people of Pakistani heritage would be targeted based on his position.

“I am devastated by the trouble caused in Barrow,” he said in the letter. “If I had known the consequences of that status, I would never have posted it.”

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