Antigua: Cop accused of kidnapping, raping teen, walks

(Antigua Observer) A police prosecutor accused of kidnapping a 13 year old girl and having sex with her on two occasions in 2016, walked free yesterday after the child said she did not want to proceed with the case and or to relive the incidents.

Crown Counsel Shannon Jones-Gittens called the teen to court to explain herself before Justice Keith Thom and, the girl indicated that she came to the decision after she spoke with her mother, counsellor and guardian. She further stated that she has forgiven the accused, and had she been in his shoes, she would have wanted to be forgiven as well.

The child, who is now a ward of the state, having been removed from her parents’ care, said she understood the seriousness of the allegations before the court which include one count of kidnapping and two counts of unlawful sexual intercourse – the latter is an offence which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Jones-Gittens told the court that the teen, who is now 15, also spoke with her about the matter several times and, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Anthony Armstrong had asked for the Directorate of Gender Affairs to be involved and to offer counselling to the teen.

All this was done to ensure the child got professional help and advice throughout the entire process.

The prosecutor also indicated to the court that during one of the interactions with the teen as she prepared to prosecute the case, the child sat through the entire process, crying, without uttering one word.

As a result of the request from the teen not to proceed with the trial, the prosecution withdrew the charges, and the cop of over a decade service, walked out the court, free of all the allegations

The allegations made against the officer were that around July 26, 2016, in the height of Carnival activities, the child was working with a woman who was operating a Barbecue stall in St. John’s, and the woman sent her to a shop nearby.

While on the way, the officer allegedly approached the teen, whom he knew, and told her to join him in his vehicle and when she did not, he forced her inside and took her to his home.

There, he allegedly engaged her in sex even though she was 13 and the age of consent is 16.

The following day, he allegedly reached out to her and she went to his home where he again, allegedly had sex with her contrary to the Sexual Offences Act which sets out the age of consent.

As the police began investigating the matter, the junior ranking policeman had left Antigua and Barbuda and weeks passed before he returned to the state, after providing medical records indicating he could not fly.

On his return, he was charged and briefly remanded, then released on bail.

However, Justice Keith Thom revoked the bail based on evidence from a witness who said the officer went to the child’s school on November 25, 2016 enquiring about her and a cellular phone which was confiscated from her some time ago.

The court heard that the corporal of police identified himself to the witness and said he was not at the school in his capacity as a police officer, but as an accused acting on legal advice to gather evidence to build his defence. Earlier this year, the officer was again granted bail but was only released two months ago after he met the conditions.

The officer’s name has been withheld since the Sexual Offences Act bars publication unless the individual is convicted.

The next issue to be addressed is his employment with the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda, from which he was suspended pending the outcome of the case.

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