“This morning Nellie Martin, a colored girl, and a party well known to the police, brought a charge of rape against three respectable young men.”
Hamilton Spectator February 15, 1876
The complainant, Nellie Martin was well known to the police, and was frequently in trouble. In fact she was but a few days out of jail after having served a term for theft.
The first Spectator mention of the sexual assault claim that Nellie Martin had made included the following comment :
“She is also known to be a frequenter of disreputable houses, and the charge brought against the young men will in all probability fall to the ground.”
The charge did not fade away as the Spectator predicted.
Although Nellie Martin was black and had a criminal background, she had rights.
In the following day’s issue of the Spectator, the case which the paper pre-determined had not merit, was found to have merit
“Last evening at five o’clock, instead of four, on account of some delay in the Crown Attorney’s office, the case of Nellie Martin against three young men, O’Brien, Murphy and Rowan, was taken up. Mr. Whateley prosecuted and Mr. Crerar appeared for the prisoners who pleaded “not guilty.” The court was cleared of all but those directly interested in the case.
Nellie Martin, sworn – Live on the corner of Wellington and a street I don’t know the name of; I was coming up to the house on Saturday night at half-past ten; there was a crowd round the corner near the house; I asked two boys what was the matte; they said Annie McLean’s house was broken into; I then went up to the door; two persons inside said “Come in, girls;” Susan Blackwell was with me; I refused to go in; we then went to the corner; Barry followed us and grabbed me by the arm; I resisted, and he went back to the house, as I said I would strike him; I remained on the corner for awhile and then went back because I thought they were all gone; there were 13 or 14 in the crowd; went inside the door and closed it after me, when I saw three men holding Annie McLean; McLean resisted; six men took hold of me and dragged me upstairs by force into a room; three of them held the door to keep me from getting out, and then two more held me while the others by turns abused me; I afterwards got out of the room and went down stairs into the kitchen; it was then about one o’clock; Annie asked me to stay till morning; the men remained in the house all nigh; we sat up in the kitchen; about daylight, O’Brien came intoxicated; after he came in, he helped the others carry me out to the platform in front of the house where they ill-used me again; none f the prisoners, with the exception of O’Brien, had anything to do with me.
Susan Blackwood, sworn – Am 21 years of age; live with Ms. Preston, on Cherry street. The witness then went on and corroborated the evidence given by the first witness
Annie McLean, sworn – Testified to her house having been broken into, and herself abused. She would not swear that Rowan and Murphy were present, but was pretty positive as to O’Brien.
The case was adjourned till this morning, one witness being drunk not fit for examination.
THE CASE WAS RESUMED
Maria Granger, sworn – I stop at McLean’s; I was there on Saturday night; I occupy the upstairs part I heard a noise and a row there on that evening; Annie and I went out in the evening to buy groceries; when we returned to the house we saw this disturbance; I saw the prisoner abuse Annie McLean.
This closed the evidence.
His Worship committed O’Brien on two counts of rape upon Nellie Martin and Annie McLean, and the prisoner Rowan and Murphy on the charge of rape upon the person of Nellie Martin.
His Worship refused to accept bail.
In a related column, the Spectator described that the people in the area where Nellie Martin did not in any way support Nellie Marin or her friends :
“The respectable people of Corktown intend taking active steps to get rid of the three women, Annie McLean, Susan Northwood, and Nellie Martin, who have had three young men arrested and committed for trial on a very serious charge. It appears that these three women have consorted together for the past year, and have been a disgrace to the neighbourhood in which they reside. They have long been known to the police as women of the worst type, and have been the terror of all respectable citizens wherever they have been.”