Monday, November 8, 2004

Pitcairn Island Chooses Female Mayor

Mon Nov 8, 7:50 AM ET

WELLINGTON, New Zealand - Pitcairn Island has selected its first female mayor in its 214-year history after the former leader of the remote Pacific community was fired following his conviction on sex charges, British authorities said Monday.

The seven-member governing council on the isolated island, first settled by mutineers from the HMS Bounty, unanimously chose Brenda Christian, the sister of former Mayor Steve Christian, to fill the post until a Dec. 15 election, British High Commission spokesman Bryan Nicolson said.
Brenda Christian is the island's former police officer.

Late last month, six island men were convicted of rapes and sex attacks dating back as far as 40 years on the island, located midway between New Zealand and South America. Steve Christian, who claims to be a direct descendent of Bounty mutiny leader Fletcher Christian, was convicted of five rapes and sentenced to three years in prison.

Brenda Christian will preside over a 47-member community still coming to terms with the verdicts and the revelations of a reign of sex abuse by men on the island. The men's sentences, ranging from community service to six years in prison, will not begin until next year at the earliest, after appeals by their defense lawyers against Britain's jurisdiction over the island. If the sentences are upheld, the men will serve time in an island cell block they helped build.
British authorities last week fired Steve Christian as mayor and his son, Randy — who also was convicted of sex crimes — as chairman of a key island committee after the pair refused to resign.
Nicolson said Brenda Christian, born and raised on the island, had spent some years living in Britain and returned about five years ago.

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