A man who incessantly described himself as a devout Catholic who could never hurt children, was yesterday handed a life sentence for raping and sodomising an eight-year- old girl, whom he began abusing at the age of six.
Michael Abrams, was unanimously convicted on the two counts levelled against him, for rape of a child under the age of 16.
He first sexually penetrated the now ten year old girl, sometime between January 1, 2013 and January 19, 2016.
On the latter date, he was again found to have sexually molested the child.
During the trial proceedings which were held in-camera, the court had heard testimony of Abrams inserting his finger into the young girl’s vagina, and also sodomising her.
Prior to imposing sentence, Justice Simone Morris-Ramlall noted the convict’s unrepentance towards the offences committed.
The judge said that his lack of remorse, coupled with the nature of the offences, and the circumstances under which they were committed, had all been taken into consideration, for the sentence arrived at.
Referencing evidence given, Justice Morris-Ramlall, reminding Abrams of his own testimony, of loving the child, upbraided him for abusing a position of trust, noting that he had violated the child in the worst possible way.
For the love she showed and the trust bestowed in him, the judge told Abrams that he repaid the child, “by treating her like a beast, including sodomising her.”
“You told her that by so doing, you were showing her love,” Justice Morris-Ramlall remarked.
Reminding him of his lamentations of being a Catholic, the judge told the convict she hopes he will “pray to God for forgiveness.”
In relation to the life sentences imposed for each of the two rape counts, the judge ordered that Abrams is to spend a minimum of 35 years in prison before being paroled.
In accordance with Section 61 of the Sexual Offences Act, a victim impact statement was presented to the court on behalf of the child, by her counsellor, in which it was related that the child sometimes feels sad and lonely, because of the assault.
After relating to her teacher what had happened to her, the court heard of the young girl’s fear of Abrams finding, and further hurting her, before her mother’s return from the interior.
The court further heard from the statement read by the counsellor, Kaiesha Perry, of the child being happy, that Abrams would no longer be able to hurt her, or any other child.
“I now know that it is not my fault,” the statement in conclusion quoted the child as saying, and that she did the “right thing,” by telling her teacher, mummy and daddy.
Asked whether he had anything to say before being sentenced, Abrams maintained that he was innocent of the charges.
The man in his brief address to the court, said, “the jury in their wisdom would have found me guilty of an offence.”
He then went on to declare, “I could not have, and would never have committed the offence.” That I would maintain now, until forever,” he asserted.
The only of his three attorneys present at yesterday’s hearing, Chandrawattie Persaud, initially declined to speak when given a chance, advancing that her client had already spoken.
Asked whether she would still not present a plea in mitigation on her client’s behalf, Persaud, then told the judge that she would reconsider, thereafter emphasizing that Abrams was “a person who served in church.”
She said he was in charge of the choir and interacted with children, and never once has his integrity been impugned.
For her part, however, Prosecutor Seeta Bishundial had asked for Abrams to be visited with the maximum penalty, stating that he had used a position of trust, to hurt the child, “in the worst way possibly.”
“He has shattered her innocence, and she has to live with this, for the rest of her life,” Bishundial argued.
She had begged the court to consider the unanimous verdicts returned by Abrams’ peers on both counts, noting that he had shown, “not an ounce of remorse.”
Called upon to lead his defence during the trial, Abrams, who had called five witnesses to attest to his character, had told the court he was Catholic from birth, and was also a musician at church.
Abrams was represented by Persaud, along with attorneys Leslie Sobers and Trenton Lake.
The prosecuting team was led by Bishundial, in association with Narissa Leander and Abigail Gibbs, who called about eight witnesses to the stand.
Perry is a Programme Coordinator attached to Child Link and also a Court Support Personnel. She had recalled coming into contact with the child some three weeks ago, after she was referred by the Chambers of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
She said she supported the child in her preparations for trial.
The case was heard at the New Sexual Offences Court, at the High Court in Georgetown.