Ms. Lloa Bass-Golokeh, the woman who was allegedly sexually assaulted by Joseph Chourity, a former restaurant manager at the Royal Grand Hotel, has said that she won’t remain silent until justice is done in her case.
Ms. Bass Golokeh, in an exclusive interview with the Daily Observer recently in Monrovia, said: “I will not be silent about this issue because I did not give anyone permission to touch and sexually assault my body. I was humiliated and sexually violated before several of my close friends and family that were there celebrating the New Year at what we thought to be a safe and prestigious hotel.”
She explained her ordeal: “It was early Friday morning, January 1, when I and some of my friends came from the Alpha Kappa Alpha New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball and went to the Royal Grand Hotel in continuation of the New Year’s Day festivities.
“We arrived at the hotel around 2:15 a.m. and immediately went to the rooftop bar of the hotel for their celebration.”
While celebrating the advent of the New Year Ms. Bass-Golokeh said she stood for photos with friends.
Then, she said, “I felt a hand go up my dress in between my thighs pulling down my underwear. As soon as I turned around, I saw the manager of the restaurant, defendant Joseph Chourity, directly seated behind me.”
Ms. Bass-Golokeh said she was shocked and humiliated by Chourity’s attitude over the incident.
Ms. Bass-Golokeh said she had returned to Liberia from Nairobi, Kenya where she worked with UNHCR for over a year in the protection/resettlement unit, which often dealt with sexual and gender based violence.
In an effort to give back to her country, she said she had decided to move back home and further pursue her career and develop an NGO.
Returning to the incident at the hotel, she said instead of ringing in the New Year she was sexually assaulted by someone with whom she had never interacted.
She, however, called on Liberian women to join and support her to in ensuring that justice is done so as to minimize the high rate of rape and sexual assault in the country.
She said it is her hope that Liberians will take rape and sexual gender based violence issues seriously “by educating our people on the serious legal, moral, and ethical offense to rape, molestation, sexual assault and harassment by anyone, irrespective of their gender or age.
“I will take a stand and speak out on what happened to me with the hope that other women will have the courage to do the same.”
She added: “My physical and sexual protection is important, but how about the protection of others who have been through this but can’t speak out? It’s time for everyone to stand up and say no to these types of violence against women in the country.”
Based on the complaint filed by Ms. Bass-Golokeh, Police in Monrovia have charged Chourity with the crime of sexual assault, a violation of Section 14.77 of the Revised Penal Code of Liberia, and will soon face prosecution.
During preliminary investigations, police said defendant Chourity, a Lebanese national, admitted touching Ms. Bass-Golokeh from the back part of her body while they were at the top of the hotel.
He, however, denied touching her between her thighs or attempting “pulling down” her underwear, as she alleged.
The Charge Sheet further said “Chourity admitted indirectly when Deputy [Police] Commissioner Emmanuel Jlikan asked him why he placed his hand between the thighs of the victim.
Chourity responded by “regretting” his action.
The investigation established that Chourity admitted in the presence of his legal counsel, Cllrs. G. Moses Paegar and Golda Bonah Elliott of the Sherman and Sherman Law Firm, that he was never permitted by Golokeh to touch her body.
Police also quoted Chourity as saying, “other people were present when the incident took place, but I do not know them.”