Following the detailed physical description that Tanya Stephens gave last week of the Reggae/Dancehall artist whom she accused of sexually assaulting her three decades ago, speculations have been rife on social media about who the culprit could be.
Some of the names of the artists being bandied about, however, are so far-fetched that they defy all logic. In fact, several of the artists whose names are being called would have been in primary school when the incident with Tanya Stephens took place. Others are very skinny and fall way outside the description of the “hefty, muscular man”, now Christian-inclined man that Stephens pinpointed.
In 2016, Stephens first revealed in a social media post that she had been beaten and raped at age 17, by one of Jamaica’s biggest artists who was, according to her, “third in line to Shabba Ranks and Patra” at the time. She said he was mentoring her in the music business and was telling everyone she was his “little sister”.
However, in an Instagram Live session with Shannon Mack a few days ago, the Rebelution artist recounted her experience and provided details of the physical description of her aggressor, whom she says is highly revered by many of Jamaica’s politicians and high-ranking police officers.
“Jamaica has one famous predator whom I met when I was a teenager,” Stephens, now 48 told Shannon, as she segued from speaking about sexual exploitation of young people in Jamaica.
“He is famous; like everybody knows he is a predator and they speak about him behind his back and when I speak about him people ask ‘why don’t you report him’? And I am like: ‘to who?’” she explained.
“I have been in his presence in political circles high ranking police officers were there and high-ranking politicians were there. And they were his friends. Who do I tell on this guy?”
Contending again that there is a “rape culture” in Jamaica, Stephens said that the island is projected as the “last bastion of morality” which is not the case, as what the country’s nationals have is “false pride” with cover-ups and hush-hushes for rape being the order of the day.
“This was somebody I trusted. It wasn’t stranger,” she said.
As she did in 2016, Stephens explained that at age 16, she had moved from St Mary to Kingston to live with her sister and between baby-sitting her niece and attending fashion school. She decided to find a studio to accommodate her as she had wanted to enter the music business and found one, which she said, was “at the top of Maxfield Avenue in Kingston, near Castro Brown studio”.
“At the time there were three big artistes – really huge artistes in Jamaica. Shabba Ranks was the king. Patra was the queen – she was next to Shabba. And there was another guy next in line. And he became my mentor and he used to call me his little sister and I believed it. I really believed it,” she recounted.
The St. Mary native recalled that when she was about to celebrate her 17th birthday, her sister upon realizing that she was a minor and not 20 as she thought, forbade her from going back to the studio.
Devastated, she went to the studio and told the operators, including her mentor, that she could not return due to her sister’s concerns.
“He – my mentor said: ‘No man. Yuh want mi come talk to har’. And I am like ‘you would’? Now, my sister, my auntie every woman inna my family loved him. So she was excited at the prospect,” she said.
Her future aggressor, she said, drove her home that evening and sat and spoke with her sister and “took responsibility for her” allaying her sister’s fears that it was unsafe for a girl her age to ‘be out”.
“He took responsibility and she trusted him. And she gave me permission based on his taking responsibility,” he said.
“First of all, he never made an advance. He only spoke of me as his little sister. He never made an advance. Not once. And I say that many times to reinforce the fact that there is no indication that the thought of that was in his mind,” Stephens added.
She said things came to a head one fateful day when her abuser was “moving house”, when he committed the act that turned her life upside-down.
“Like he’s done many times before, he offered me a ride home. So on the ride home, then he said he had to drop by his new place that he is setting up. Everybody knew he was moving and he said he wanted to stop by his place real quick and drop off something. Now if had known the geography of Kingston, I would have known something was wrong because my home was on the way to his new place,” she said in describing his first act of deceit.
She said he started running toward the building and then stopped and came back and urged her to come look at his place and give him some ideas on how to “set it up”.
She said they passed about four people, including a woman on the landing next to her aggressor’s apartment doorway. Upon entering he immediately locked the door, which she found slightly odd, but immediately brushed it off as him securing the place as Kingston was known to have had a lot of “criminals”.
“So he locked the door, and then he started to show me around. Girl, when we reached the bedroom, is a full on assault. Full assault,” Stephens said.
“When I see this man speak enuh, and when I see Jamaica big him up sometimes and they act like he is such an upstanding citizen who is a Christian man and a nice guy, I go bonkers. Because no matter what anybody tells me, I know my experience. I was there; he was there… we know what happened,” she added.
Stephens said when she tried to stave off the artiste, he rained blows on her, mercilessly, in order to get her to submit. It was at this point that she gave the description of her aggressor, which has made people begin to narrow down on the possible perpetrator, with whom she noted years ago, she shares one significant characteristic.
“Child, mi defend myself. I was about 85 pounds. Is a big diesel man. Thick. So-so muscle; no body fat. And when him start beat mi, mi decide awrite, arite, awrite… mi give up,” she said.
“Mi a bawl fi help enuh. I scream fi help; mi bawl fi rape. People deh outside di door. Yuh si when mi scream and bawl fi rape, and mi nuh hear nobaddy a answer, mi jus stop. Because wha mi a do? Wait until him kill mi? Mi a get real licks. Suh mi stop fight,” the now mother of one said.
She said the artist continued his violation of her body over and over until he had satisfied himself, then washed away the evidence himself.
“And that continued for hours. I was locked into his new place that he moved into, and violated for hours. And when him done, him hold mi and lead mi to di bathroom; put mi inna di shower himself and bade mi,’ she said sardonically. “Nuh evidence nuh lef. Mi get a proper scrub. Proper, proper scrub.”
“This is a man who is adored by the 14 parishes and the Diaspora. Who mi a report him to. Yuh hear wha den she bout di girl dem weh go near Bill Cosby…?”
Her fear of reporting the matter to anyone then, she said, was compounded by a conversation she had heard between one of her sisters and a co-worker, who said her magistrate father had told her that if she or her sister ever got raped they should report it to him and not the police as “the system would rape them again.”
In continuing to relay her ordeal Stephens said that after the man completed the act, guilt and shame descended on her like a guillotine.
“Mi bawl until no tears naw come… and he asked if I wanted to go home and I said ‘no’ because mi neva waan leave out until night. Mi neva want nobaddy si mi face. I felt dirty. I felt ashamed; I felt guilty. I felt like shit. And I knew people were there when I went in and I was hoping that they couldn’t remember my face. And if I came out in the darkness maybe they wouldn’t be there. And nobody would see me and I could just go home in anonymity,” she said.
“When I went home, I went to the shower again. And I showered. And I showered. Mi nuh have no evidence. Who mi a guh to? Mi poor. And I went voluntarily,” she mused.
She said knowing how judgmental her sister and rest of her family were, and the fact that they had advised against her venturing into music and go to college instead, she did not tell anyone about her ordeal.
“I couldn’t tell them that I went to the studio and got raped, could I? How would I broach that conversation with people who already said that was what was waiting for me at the studio?” she said.
“And the studio didn’t do anything to me. One man did. One monster did,” the It’s a Pity artist said.