December 8, 2019

The Editor Speaks: Child abuse goes mainly unpunished

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Colin Wilsonweb2Over twelve months ago an article appeared in the Cayman Compass saying there were no statistics available at that time (May 27 2015) on the number of police convictions for child abuse. The article went on to say:

“Despite recent survey results suggesting one in five young girls have suffered sexual abuse by an adult, the police , the main investigative body for child abuse, has had just 41 cases referred since January 2014.

“Detective Inspector Lauriston Burton of the Family Support Unit said many victims were fearful of going through the investigative process and of their identities being disclosed.

“He said the Pan American Health Organization report suggesting some 19 percent of teenage girls had been sexually abused was “alarming.”

‘“We don’t believe we are getting all the reports we could be getting,” he said.

“He said most referrals come to the unit, though some cases are investigated by the .

“Dr. , a trauma counselor and the deputy chair of Cayman’s Mental Health Commission, said most sexual abuse cases are currently going unpunished.

“She said the investigative process is often very slow and the police are sometimes reluctant to prosecute, even when counselors believe there is sufficient evidence.

“More frequently, she said, children are reluctant to go through the investigative process or are talked out of it by family members.”

You can read the whole article at: https://www.caymancompass.com/2015/05/27/most-child-abuse-goes-unpunished-experts-say/

However, when the cases are reported it doesn’t mean anything will happen anytime soon and even can be overlooked.

This shocking failure of the RCIPS to take no action for more than three years after it was first reported came to light last Tuesday (2) when a child abuse case came before Justice Tim Owen QC.

When the Judge queried why the officer now in charge of the case could not explain. It had been “inadvertently overlooked” and dropped, he said.

The case involves two local men aged 21 and 38 who are on trial accused of attempted rape and indecent assault of a young girl.

These men were not interviewed by the police until 20 months had gone by after the complaint had been made. The police officer told the judge he was the first person to have spoken with the little girl and her two relatives for an hour, when they came to the police station in November 2012, had taken notes but these notes had been lost by the Family Support Unit.

Following on after that no one was ever assigned to the case and the officer said he had then overlooked it.

Another 18 months went by before the same police officer was handed the case to deal with.

The officer told the court when he started re-investigating it many of the witnesses to the assaults had left the islands.

Even more incredulously family members who lived in the house were never formally interviewed.

Even after the child had made the allegations the still left the child alone with the men and the officer viewed her as a suspect. He recommended she be charged with cruelty and neglect, but the public prosecutor did not agree.

Thankfully the child has been removed from her mother and the house where she was being abused and was taken in by another female relative.

Both men have denied the charges.

Quite frankly, it all goes back to the pre-conceived idea that the word of an adult should be taken over that of a child even if she or he is the victim. And in a close society like Cayman is, sexual exploitation of minors has long been allowed to happen. And the police do not like to deal with it. And that is the reason the above case got ‘forgotten’.

Now a nice juicy murder……

Or a bank robbery ………

Lawyers appropriating client’s money ……

Smoking pot ………

Child abuse …… what……?

And that is the reason why child abuse goes mainly unpunished, even when it is reported.

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