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June 2, 2005

DA in Texas may extradite accused sex offender living in Bermuda

From: Royal Gazette, Bermuda - Jun 2, 2005

By Sam Stevens

The District Attorney in Howard County, Texas, is now considering extraditing the alleged sex attacker currently living Bermuda to that state.
As revealed by The Royal Gazette last month, Franklin Wellington Fahnbulleh III, 49, a deaf American man who is married to a Bermudian and lives in Southampton, is wanted in west Texas, having been criminally indicted in November, 2002 on two, third degree felony counts relating to an allegedly violent sexual assault on a former work colleague.
The alleged victim, Dana Turner, a former accounts clerk at Howard College in Howard County, claims that Mr. Fahnbulleh injured her neck and spine by pulling her head back by her hair, kissing her neck, biting her breast and attempting to remove her underwear on college property when he was the dean of students.
Mr. Fahnbulleh, who fled the state on being indicted, also faces a large civil suit against him, the file of which runs to several hundred pages and contains a long list of further allegations of sexual assault dating back to the 1980s.
The criminal charges against Mr. Fahnbulleh are significantly less severe and include official restraint (an abuse of power in a public office) and a misdemeanour charge of public lewdness.
However, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has also indicated they are considering charging Mr. Fahnbulleh with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution – a US federal offence.
And speaking to the Big Springs Herald, Howard County DA Hardy Wilkerson said he is to commence discussions with the FBI this week to "explore" the options available to them.
The Royal Gazette understands that the prohibitive cost of extradition has thrown a spanner in the works, with Mr. Wilkerson reluctant to spend a great deal of money on the procedure when the criminal charges against Mr. Fahnbulleh are only of the third degree.
The civil case, which contains a plethora of more serious allegations, does not come under the jurisdiction of the DA and is being prosecuted by lawyers of the alleged victim based in Houston.
Until he has concluded his dialogue with the FBI, however, Mr. Wilkerson said he was unable to provide an approximate estimate of the cost of extradition or give any tangible indication of when they could set the wheels in motion.
"There seems to be more interest in the civil case pending against him – but that is not the concern of my office," Mr. Wilkerson said.
"We'll just have to see what resources it will take and go from there."
Meanwhile, having pledged to "follow up" the matter with the relevant authorities in the United States, officials from the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Department of Immigration were not prepared to comment directly on the case of Mr. Fahnbulleh this week.
When asked whether any progress had been made, Chief Immigration Officer Martin Brewer would only repeat what has been said before – that only when an individual has been convicted of a crime can the Department require that person to leave the Island.

Copyright 20©01 The Royal Gazette Ltd.