A Sudanese man accused of a New York City rape was able to duck the charges due to his position as a United Nations diplomat, a get-out-of-jail-free card by virtue of diplomatic immunity, a highly controversial policy that is drawing renewed attention in the aftermath of the incident.
Over the weekend, police briefly detained 46-year-old Charles Dickens Imene Oliha, a career diplomat working as a minister of foreign affairs for South Sudan after he was accused by a female neighbor of following her into her upper Manhattan apartment building and violently raping her twice before leaving the scene.
When police responded after the woman reported the alleged sexual assault, they took Oliha into custody until learning that he had full diplomatic immunity and was immunized against charges, leading to his release and possible flight from the country.
The victim told police that she was walking a neighbor’s dog when a man identified as the diplomat approached her in the lobby, telling her that he was going to follow her upstairs to which she replied “No, you’re not,” according to authorities, the New York Post reported.
Then as she opened the door to her apartment, the man forced his way in and then “pinned her against a wall and raped her using a condom before raping her again on the couch without a condom,” according to the outlet. “The victim said she was in shock after the attack and went to sleep but later called 911 after a friend convinced her to make a report, cops said.”
The woman was taken to Columbia University Medical Center and Oliha was arrested, and then let go after his diplomatic status was determined.
With some suspecting that he has fled the U.S. the State Department would not verify whether he was still in the country, “We are aware of the incident referenced involving a diplomat accredited to the United Nations,” a spokesperson told the Daily Mail on Tuesday.
“We take these allegations seriously, and we are working closely with the New York Police Department and the Mayor’s Office of International Affairs, as we do in all legal and criminal cases involving foreign diplomats assigned to Permanent Missions and Observer Offices at the UN,” the spokesperson said.
‘We are aware of this report, which is very concerning,” the UN said in a statement to the Daily Mail. “Any case of alleged sexual assault needs to be fully investigated.”
Many expressed outrage over the release of a suspected rapist including New York City Mayor Eric Adams who said, “sexual assault of any kind will not be tolerated.”
Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi appeared on Fox News where she discussed the appalling release of Oliha with host Sean Hannity on Tuesday night, stating that diplomatic immunity should not apply to rape.
“Diplomatic immunity was made, created for diplomats visiting foreign lands and their families to keep them from unwarranted prosecution or crimes,” she said. “This guy’s a criminal and you know, Joe Biden should be all over the news, he should be telling South Sudan you need to waive this guy’s immunity, he is accused of raping a woman.”
(Video: Fox News)
“What would Donald Trump have done right now?” Bondi asked. “He would have cut off all aid, he would have cut off all ties if that had not been done and that’s a shame. In New York we’re seeing no consequences for your actions for any crimes and that’s a problem…”
“It’s a situation where the State Department is going to have to decide what they are going to do with the case,” an NYPD spokesperson told the New York Post. “It’s still under investigation at this point.”
Oliha is married with four young children aged one, three, five and eight years old and has a reputation of being a drunkard.
A neighbor told the New York Post that the diplomat “was under immense stress” and “began drinking so heavily that he repeatedly passed out on the sidewalk before he suddenly stopped about three weeks ago.”
(Video: The Daily Mail)
“There was something happening with his government. There was turmoil within their office at the UN,” the neighbor added. “In the early days of summer, he would drink outside and fall asleep on the sidewalk.”
It’s hardly the first time that diplomatic immunity has stood in the way of the law with numerous incidents over the years.
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