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Diasporian News Wed, 12 Mar 2008

Ghanaian player jailed for six years

Ghanaian footballer Eric 'Saviola' Frimpong, the former UCSB soccer star, has been jailed for six years in the United States after being convicted of rape.

Defense Attorney Robert Sanger, however, mentioned his intention to file an appeal against the outcome of the trial in California.

Presiding Judge Brian Hill sentenced Frimpong, who was convicted of felony rape on Dec. 17, 2007, and opted not to allot him the maximum punishment of eight years nor the minimum amount of three years.

Hill cited the cruel, vicious and callous nature of the crime as reasoning behind his decision but said that the lack of any criminal record prevented him from imposing the maximum sentence.

The victim's father spoke before the court , saying that although Frimpong was well-liked, he showed no remorse for what he had done.

"As soon as he's finished with his sentence, he should be deported immediately," he said.

"I will never be the woman I was before I was raped," said the 19-year-old victim in a statement read on her behalf in court.

"Testifying against Frimpong was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do."

Hill felt that although the rape was violent, he did not think it was something planned out.

"This is kind of a primitive, forceful act," he said, "but it doesn't seem to me to involve planning and sophistication."

Frimpong was born and raised in the African country of Ghana.

The courtroom was standing-room only and TV cameras filmed the proceedings for local news outlets.

Much of the UCSB soccer team was in attendance along with many other supporters of Frimpong.

On numerous occasions, Hill breached the subject of the defendant's strong community support but dismissed that as a reason for shortening the sentence.

Frimpong appeared stoic throughout the hearing and sentencing.

Many of Frimpong's friends and allies, however, were overwhelmed with emotion following the hearing.

Supporters of Frimpong distributed a self-produced press release to media covering the event that insisted on their claim of Frimpong's innocence.

"Eric Frimpong is an innocent man," the press release said.

"He has been wrongfully prosecuted and convicted of a rape he did not commit. From the moment this very drunk girl, a girl who admitted she had 'chunks of memory missing' as to what happened, made allegations of rape, Eric [Frimpong] has been treated unfairly by Santa Barbara County Sheriff's detectives, the district attorney?s office and the court."

Hill, prior to discussing the sentencing, stood by the jury's ruling once more.

Source: GHANAsoccernet.com