Anne Sacoolas, the wife of a U.S. diplomat who fatally struck British teen Harry Dunn with her car and swiftly fled the country with a claim of diplomatic immunity, has been charged in the U.K. following months of public outcry.
Sacoolas, 42, retreated to the U.S. with her family following the Aug. 27 crash with Dunn’s motorcycle that police say was caused by her driving on the wrong side of the road.
The Chief Crown Prosecutor’s office said Friday that the process of extraditing Sacoolas to the U.K. was underway. Once returned, she will be charged with causing death by dangerous driving, which carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.
It’s unclear whether she could be forced back to the U.K. Diplomats and their families are immune from host country prosecution under international law, but British officials contend Sacoolas’ husband, Jonathan, an intelligence officer, wasn’t a registered diplomat.
The U.S. State Department, in a statement to Sky News on Friday, continued to assert Sacoolas’ diplomatic immunity and said the charges “will not bring a resolution closer.”
“We do not believe the UK’s charging decision is a helpful development,” the statement added.
Public outrage over the diplomatic immunity claim prompted British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ask President Donald Trump to intervene, although he made no commitment.
Sacoolas told British police after the crash outside the military base RAF Croughton that she had no plans to leave the country. British authorities were preparing to ask the U.S. State Department to waive Sacoolas’ diplomatic immunity when the family abruptly moved across the Atlantic.
The director of Public Prosecutions met personally with Dunn’s family to deliver news of the charges.
Dunn’s parents, Tim Dunn and Charlotte Charles, traveled to New York in October to raise awareness about their son’s case, giving an emotional press conference in which they pleaded with Trump to allow a British law enforcement investigation.
“We just want to know that she’s being brought back to the U.K. That would be a huge step in the right direction. It’s the only right thing to do. It’s the only humane thing to do,” Charles said at the time. “We shouldn’t be suffering like this.”
Dunn and Charles met with Trump at the White House later that week. In a shocking twist, Trump revealed to the grieving parents that Sacoolas was in the next room ready to offer a personal apology. The parents refused to meet her, explaining that they would do so upon her return to the U.K.
The family said they were given more hope that justice would be carried out after meeting this week with U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.