American woman accused of killing a UK teenager proposes ‘mediation’ with his family
In a statement Wednesday, Sacoolas and her personal attorney, Amy Jeffress, said they would like to find a path forward to “bring a measure of peace and closure” to the family of Dunn after Sacoolas was accused of killing 19-year-old Harry Dunn while she was driving on the wrong side of the road in England.
Sacoolas and Jeffress “remain willing to discuss options, including mediation, to find a path forward toward a resolution,” according to the statement.
Sacoolas’ law firm confirmed to CNN that this is the first time mediation had been suggested by their client.
Although she does not dispute that she was negligent and admits driving on the wrong side of the road at the time of the crash, Sacoolas and her family fled the UK after US authorities claimed she had diplomatic immunity.
The reason her employment matters is that the US and UK agreed in the mid-1990s that American intelligence officers posted to RAF Croughton would not be able to claim diplomatic immunity for any criminal incidents that occur outside the US base. If it had been known in the days after the crash that Anne Sacoolas was employed by the State Department, she may not as easily have been able to claim the diplomatic immunity of a spouse.
Sacoolas is still charged in the UK with causing Dunn’s death by dangerous driving but the State Department has refused a UK request to extradite her.
Instead in September 2020, Dunn’s family “as a last resort” filed a wrongful death civil case against Sacoolas in Virginia, where she lives. Sacoolas made a motion to dismiss the civil case, arguing it should be heard in the UK, despite repeatedly refusing to agree to face trial in the UK because of fears she would not receive fair treatment.
Her legal team said Judge T.S.Ellis’ ruling Tuesday in the Eastern District Court of Virginia that the civil case can go ahead in the United States, “has no impact or bearing on Anne Sacoolas’ diplomatic immunity.”
“Anne Sacoolas’ employment status has never been relevant to her diplomatic immunity, which was based on her husband’s status as an accredited diplomat,” it added.
Responding to her proposal for mediation, Radd Seiger, adviser and spokesman for the Dunn family told CNN in a statement: “We are very pleased to see the strong indication from Mrs Sacoolas and her personal attorney this afternoon that they are willing to discuss options with a view to finding a path forward.
“I would urge Mrs Jeffress and the Crown Prosecution Service to engage with each other as urgently as possible and the parents and I are more than happy to engage in those discussions if appropriate.”
“We are sure that, once a satisfactory resolution is found, both families will be able to begin the path towards recovery,” he added.