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Last Updated: Saturday, 2 October, 2004, 03:20 GMT 04:20 UK
Man, 78, on Pitcairn rape charges
Landing jetty at Pitcairn (archive picture)
Tiny, isolated Pitcairn Island has a population of 47
A 78-year-old man has been accused of twice raping a woman more than 30 years ago, amid an alleged culture of sex attacks on the tiny island of Pitcairn.

The alleged victim, testifying by video link to the third of seven sex abuse trials on the UK colony, said she had felt powerless to resist the attacks.

Len Brown is the oldest of the seven men who face a total of 55 charges including rape and indecent assault.

His son Dave has denied 15 charges of indecent assault and gross indecency.

And the mayor of the island, Steve Christian, pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to six charges of rape and four of indecent assault

'Powerless to resist'

It is alleged that the attacks by Len Brown took place between 1969 and 1972.

His alleged victim, testifying by video link from Auckland, New Zealand, said that although she had not consented to sex she did not struggle because she felt powerless to resist.

The trial in the island's makeshift court in Adamstown was then adjourned because she began feeling unwell.

Dave Brown, 49, appeared on Thursday accused of assaulting girls, one as young as five, over a period of 21 years from 1970.

Prosecutors said that girls were treated as sexual playthings and rape was a way of life on the island.

Seven of Pitcairn's 12 adult men face charges - some dating back 40 years.

All the alleged victims are now off the island.

Legal challenge

The trials are being held concurrently in order to complete them in the shortest possible time.

A further six men from Pitcairn, who now live in Australia and New Zealand, are due to face court next year charged with 41 sex offences.

The defendants are expected to mount a defence based on a challenge to Britain's authority over the island.

They argue that although Pitcairn - as a British overseas territory - is theoretically subject to English law, consensual underage sex, involving girls aged 12 or 13, is a traditional part of island life.

Some local women have agreed, saying some of the alleged victims of abuse had been coerced into testifying.

The abuse charges stem from 1999 when an islander told a visiting British policewoman she had been sexually abused.

Pitcairn Island was inhabited by mutineers who seized control of the British naval ship HMS Bounty in 1789.

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