Judge praises sex assault victim for speaking out, jails attacker

A Sangre Grande man who admitted to committing sexual acts on a minor in 2013 was sentenced on Thursday by a High Court judge who praised the victim for speaking out.

Justice Kathy Ann Waterman-Latchoo said silence was "the tool of the predator,” and praised the victim for her bravery, especially because of her age at the time and because she was violated by a family member.

These types of criminal acts, the judge said, were usually hidden and not addressed.

She also commended the girl’s neighbour who protected the young girl while she waited for her mother.

In passing the final sentence of two years and two months, Waterman-Latchoo began with a starting point of 15 years for the offence of grievous sexual assault. Eighteen months were deducted for mitigating factors and the accused received a one-third discount for his guilty plea.

The six years, nine months, and three weeks he spent in custody awaiting trial were further deducted, leaving two years and two months to serve.

For the offence of indecent assault, the judge started at four years and after similar deductions, he was left to serve one year and six months. However, having already spent over six years in custody, he was granted “time served” on that sentence.

It was the prosecution’s case on May 17, 2013, the man, who was then 33, was at the girl’s home. The victim, who was 13 at the time, had no school and because her mother had to work, the accused was left to supervise her.

During the day, he called out to the girl and gave her money to buy some snacks, but before she left for the shop, he told her he wanted to touch her.

She said her mother would not allow that and after she returned from the shop, she began heating water to take a bath.

While she was waiting for the water to boil, the accused approached the girl, held her down on a chair, taped her hands, and touched her on her breasts and her private parts, causing her to bleed.

The girl ran to her neighbour’s house where she called her mother. When her mother got home, they went to the police and made a report.

In arriving at the starting points for her sentences, Waterman-Latchoo said she considered the age disparity between the accused and his victim. She also considered the seriousness and prevalence of the offence, the position of trust and familiarity between the two, and the fact that he tied her to the chair to carry out the acts as well as trying to “groom her” by giving her money to buy snacks.

The man was represented by public defender Michelle Gonzalez. Prosecutor Giselle-Heller Ferguson represented the State.

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