June 25, 2021

Guyana Guardian

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Ruel Johnson issues statement on rape allegations- admits to spitting on women faces

Statement reads below:

This is my statement in response to what has been going on…

When accusations leveled against me first came out, I was advised by my friends to avoid making any comment on this issue, hence my silence until this point. In light of the ongoing public engagement on this issue, and having regard to my political profile, I have decided to respond.

With regard to Akola Thompson, what was presented in the public domain was a largely and deliberately fictitious account of our relationship, elements of which are contradicted by both public and private record. Ms. Thompson has made very specific accusations of what amounts to allegations of criminal activity on my part. I invite her to press charges and believe that she should be given whatever genuine support she can in that regard. For the record, as much as I am against her false portrayal of events, I equally condemn any attempts to slander or shame her or any woman who comes forward with any story.

With regard to Sinah Kloss, while I refuse to otherwise delve into my private life in public, there is a specific claim she made that must be addressed. What she describes as ‘burnout’ was a phase, in finishing her PhD, in which, among other things, she threatened to throw herself from my balcony and make it appear as if I had pushed her, because I was not paying enough attention to her. What she describes as ‘spitting’ is a singular incident in which, as I was lying down, she came over me, held my hands and screamed in my face that I should pay attention to her. Not wanting to physically remove her, yes, I spat at her, something I regretted doing the moment I did it. I ended the relationship after that. More than once, for the avoidance of conflict, I was forced to stay away from a place I frequented due to her turning up there.

Over the past few days, I have had to take time to reflect on my behavior and I acknowledge that I have two major problems. The first has to do with my predilection for connection to women. It is a problem that has resulted in infidelity, in damaged friendships, in conflicts in marriages – including mine – and the inability to sustain long-term relationships with them. I have been insensitive to personal situations. A few of those engagements were with girls, not women, that I should have had no business dealing with as a grown man, and I should have known better. It does not matter that my behavior fits no legal definition of statutory rape or grooming; the power relations were so skewed in my favour that it constituted an intrinsic inequality.

The second and more important problem. Ten years ago, an ex-girlfriend, a woman I’ve loved with everything within me, said to me, “You use words to cut and I don’t like knives.” I lost her because of my words. My facility with words has been a double-edged sword, not just a knife, one that has served me well in my political battles but has damaged and severed relationships in my personal life. This is something I need, and will seek, counseling for. I might not be guilty of the worst claims against me, but that does not make me innocent of bad behavior.

To my family, my friends, my son, I am sorry and ashamed that this has come to this. Most importantly, I make a specific apology to my wife, Cristal, for what she has been subjected to. To the women I have hurt – including Sinah and Akola – I am truly, genuinely sorry. You should not be silenced and you should be allowed to speak your truth. I am open to reconciliation and a direct apology to anyone whom I have caused pain. If nothing else, I hope that my being called out on my behavior sets a standard when it comes to powerful men in this country and their behavior towards women. No woman should be silenced, and no man offered protection because of his wealth, public status or political affiliation.

On that note, last night, I offered my resignation to the Executive of The Citizenship Initiative on the invitation of party leader, Rondha-Ann Lam. I believe in due process but also in taking personal responsibility. Political parties play an overwhelming role in the lives of citizens and should take the lead in holding men accountable for their behavior towards women. TCI has set an example and I hope that other parties can follow suit whenever the time comes.

With regards to my employment – I raised the issue for discussion at a meeting as soon as it became public. My employer, Glen Lall, also did the same. I have invited female staff members to come speak to me at their convenience and have me address whatever concerns they might have with working with me.

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