By Nisha Paul and Carrema Lewis
Police have arrested and charged five men including a secondary school teacher and a coach in connection with a series of alleged sex crimes against a 14-year-old secondary school girl.
THE NEW TODAY understands that another suspect from the sister isle of Carriacou, described as a boat captain, is currently being sought by the police for questioning in connection with the sexual-related incidents.
THE NEW TODAY was told that charges of sexual assault were laid on Nicholas Benjamin, the school teacher from H.A Blaize Street late Wednesday and was expected to make his first court appearance on Thursday.
The remaining suspects who appeared before a Magistrate’s Court last week have been identified as Lee Cuffie, 34, Alfred Bishop, 22, Roger Louison, 37, and 19-year old Arnold Brathwaite.
Bishop has been described as a Construction worker of Hope in St. Andrew, Cuffie is from Vincennes, St. David, the unemployed Brathwaite resides at Grand Bacolet, St. David, and Louison is from Grand Anse.
Louison, a Roof Installer, is facing 4 indictable counts of Sexual Intercourse with a female above 13 and under 16, while Brathwaite is facing 3 counts of the same offence in connection to the alleged incidents.
Both suspects were represented by Attorney-at-Law Derick Sylvester when they appeared last week Friday before Magistrate Karen Noel at the St. David’s Magistrate’s Court.
Each suspect was granted bail in the sum of $50, 000 with 2 sureties each.
Louison, Bishop and Brathwaite will make their second court appearance on December 7 at the St. David’s Magistrate’s Court.
Cuffie, who is a Coach at a popular secondary school on the island, appeared at a St. George’s Magistrate’s Court last week Friday and was charged specifically with Indecent Assault and Sexual Assault.
He was placed on $35, 000.00 bail with one surety with specific condition – surrender all travel documents, request permission from the court to travel overseas, have no contact with the victim or complainant, and report to the St. David’s Police Station once weekly.
Cuffie was also ordered by the sitting Magistrate to report to Central Police Station on the Carenage every Friday.
The accused will appear in court for a second time on December 10 at the St. George’s Magistrate’s Court.
In the case of Bishop, he appeared at the St. David’s Magistrate Court on Monday and was granted bail in the sum of $50, 000.00 with two sureties.
He was ordered to have no contact with the complainant or witnesses in the matter and to seek the permission of the court to travel abroad.
Reports suggest that the victim was sexually assaulted on an individual basis by all the suspects and later informed a family member about what had happened to her.
Asked whether the suspects were part of a sex ring as reported in some quarters, a well-placed source who is familiar with the investigation, said, “No”.
“One of them first had sexual interference with the girl and told his friend who then went and do it with her. This friend told another friend what he did to her and he then went and do the same thing to her. This is how it happened”, he remarked.
“A few of them did the same thing to her. We expect to arrest some others shortly as the investigation is continuing. The CID is on top of it – so more fellahs will be brought to court shortly” he said.
The family of the sexually abused minor, through their lawyer, Attorney-at-Law Dawn De Coteau, addressed the issue of child sex abuse following last week Friday’s hearing at the St. David Magistrate’s Court.
She said: “The family are devastated that they are here (at court) today because of the sensitivity and nature of the matter and expressed gratitude to officers attached to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) for their quick response to the report made.
“They really want to thank the CID (which) worked swiftly from the time that matter was brought to CID’s attention – it was a matter of hours as opposed to days for action to be taken and the family is grateful for that.
“The family would like (for) me to reiterate that if there’s any child who believes that they are being abused whether sexually or mentally to raise it (with) a teacher or the police because it is extremely concerning.
Information reaching THE NEW TODAY is that police investigators have not closed their investigation into the matter involving the 14-year old student and that more arrests could be made within the coming days.
The arrest of the 5 accused sex offenders came the same week as the launch of the Special Victims Unit and Sexual Abuse Hotline by the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) in an attempt to address the festering issue of sexual abuse in the country.
There are also reports that CID officers are working on a sexual-related offence involving two male students from River Road and Tempe against an under-aged school girl from a secondary school located on the outskirts of St. George’s.
In addition, a 50-year old construction Worker of Mt. Moritz, St. George is being investigated for allegedly engaging in sexual Intercourse with a 6-year old of the same village earlier this month.