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We Published an Anonymous Op-ed on Sexual Assault This Week, Here’s Why

St. Thomas — Our team published and anonymous op-ed on sexual assault today and we’d like you to know why we chose to publish the piece on behalf of a cloaked author. One month ago, State of the Territory News founder, Amaziah George submitted an editorial to news organizations to start an important conversation in the U.S. Virgin Islands about sexual assault and rape.

If you’ve followed State of the Territory News since the online paper launched in early 2017, you’ll notice that we’ve excluded sexual assault and other violent crimes from our coverage. The decision was made by the founder to avoid reliving his own trauma with sexual assault, something he has never shared with the world until recently.

In this editorial, he opened up about being sexually assaulted during his senior year in high school at Ivanna Eudora Kean High School. He also opened up about being approached by multiple adult males starting at age 15 in high school, and detailed a police officer that preyed on high school boys between 2009 and 2011 before he graduated.

This week, Amaziah submitted a second editorial to local publications detailing the days that followed his first story. Including a timeline detailing a recent conversation with a classmate that was stalked by a police officer who then began making inappropriate sexual advances — the classmate detailed in the new op-ed was between 15 and 16 years of age.

On February 24th, State of the Territory received an electronic communication from a reader sent directly to Amaziah. The woman asked to publish her story on State of the Territory News but wished to remain anonymous — he agreed.

After the call, Amaziah began talking with Makiel Cepeda and Duryan Cozier, both writers at State of the Territory, to figure out what our next steps should be before going public. We weighed the risks of releasing an anonymous op-ed from a newspaper that was only two years old — we needed credibility.

I then reached out to Tarik McMillian, M.S.Ed. NCC. An NCC is someone with a master’s degree in counseling, and have met requirements for coursework, supervision, and clinical practice hours. He agreed to provide support and is currently the only individual aware of her identity besides Amaziah, the paper’s founder, and editor-in-chief.

Since publishing his original story in early February, Amaziah has had only one radio interview to talk about his experience, which was recorded by Isle 95 in collaboration with the Women’s Coalition of St. Croix.

In the interview, posted above, State of the Territory’s founder discussed his experience with sexual assault with Tarik McMillan, a local therapist in St. Croix. Interviewing both young men was Sheelene Gumbs, who is the crisis counselor working with the Women’s Coalition of St. Croix.

We took the extraordinary step and published the anonymous op-ed about this young women’s account because her story was beyond compelling — and we believe her. We believe her story is credible and someday we hope she will find the strength to remove the cloak herself and tell the Virgin Islands about her experience with sexual assault.

Featured image courtesy of guest photographer, David Anderson, who’s the founder of DarkFire Photography based in Oakland, California.