There has been a widespread backlash on social media after news surfaced that Shaneke Williams was selected as a finalist in the Miss Jamaica World 2017 beauty pageant.
Williams was charged with aiding and abetting rape and sexual touching in the alleged incident involving a 15-year-old in November 2013.
The case involved former Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) candidate Don Creary who was charged with rape. However, the matter was dismissed by the court after the complainant indicated she did not wish to proceed with the case.
However, despite the backlash, Williams had vowed not to shy away as this gives her an opportunity to tell her side of the story.
Among the critics was Lisa Hanna, the 1993 winner of the coveted Miss World title.
See full statement from Haughton James below.
Spartan Health Club’s position on the issue of Shaneke Williams’ entry in the 2017 Miss Jamaica World Pageant.
Our “Criteria for Entry” is set out on the Miss Jamaica World website and the relevant criteria as relate to Miss Williams are as follows:
Section (d) of Article 1(The Entrant) “Shall be a person whose background is not likely to bring into disrepute the Miss Jamaica World Beauty Pageant or MJW title or the Promoter or any other person associated with them”.
Section (g) “The Promoter has the right, without giving any reason whatsoever, to bar any applicant from entering the Miss Jamaica World Contest whom he feels may bring the Contest into disrepute”.
Anyone accused of the actions that Miss Williams was accused of and was before the nation’s court for a criminal offense in the same year as the staging of the pageant would obviously face exclusion from the pageant. There is no investigative arm to the Miss Jamaica World Pageant and traditionally, prospective contestants are allowed to hand in Entry Forms on the day that the “Finalists” are to be selected. My understanding is that Miss Williams Entry Form was handed in on that last day. I was totally unaware that the Shaneke Williams who was in the line-up of contestants was involved in any criminal trial or any type of scandal whatsoever. To the best of my knowledge neither did any of the other judges.
In a Jamaica Observer Online article Miss Williams is quoted as saying: “Before entering the competition, I knew what the situation was and I made it clear to them that I am at a state right now where I’m recovering mentally and emotionally from this ordeal and I would not want to enter knowing that it would implicate them or affect my chances of winning the crown,” she said.
“It was made known to me that it should not be an issue because there was no criminal record and I’m not convicted of any crime,” Williams added.
Again, no communication between Miss Williams and any Miss Jamaica World 2017 team member was made known to me and if any team member had approached and encouraged her to enter knowing of this incident in her recent past, I would find it very disturbing.
I had a very long meeting with Shaneke yesterday, Tuesday August 15 I found her to be a bright young lady albeit maybe with some “issues” which should not be surprising considering her recent past. I made the point that while she may see the Miss Jamaica World Pageant as a platform to make a statement and redeem her reputation that would be selfish if it was going to be at the expense of her fellow contestants, sponsors, past winners and contestants and the Pageant itself. I told her that she should have come in to see me and identify herself and her situation before entering. She did not mention then that she had been in dialog with anyone on the team. I handed her a letter explaining our reasons for refusing her entry and she seemed in full agreement and requested the opportunity to withdraw voluntarily. I agreed and gave her a timeline in which to submit the letter. The timeline has not been met but the letter will still be accepted if and when it comes.
We have offered to maintain Miss Williams gym membership awarded when she was initially selected as a “Finalist” as we do not see her as a criminal or even as an unsavoury person but just someone who does not meet the criteria for entry into the Miss Jamaica World Pageant at this time.