By RASHAD ROLLE
A PROMINENT Bahamian pastor is calling for authorities to establish a minimum sentence of life imprisonment for “convicted child molesters” a week after a man was sentenced to five years in prison for raping a six-year-old girl.
Bishop Simeon Hall, pastor emeritus of New Covenant Baptist Church, advocated for the tougher penalty and said children who are raped suffer through a lifetime of “hell”.
His comments came nearly a week after Kendrick Rolle, 37, was sentenced on October 20 to five years imprisonment for having sex with a six-year-old girl in June, 2013.
Rolle had been fined in 2001 when he was convicted of indecently assaulting a 13-year-old girl.
The sentence imposed on Rolle has also spurred the civic group Bahamas Against Sexual Violence & Child Abuse (BASV&CA) to make “a national call to action for the protection of children” today in Rawson Square.
The group will hold a demonstration from 5pm to 8pm in response to Rolle’s sentencing.
In a press statement released Saturday, Bishop Hall said: “It is an added slap in the face of the victim and the general public that it seems that the convicted man will spend less than two years in prison. The child on the other hand, will spend a lifetime in a ‘private hell’ for which limited help can be offered.”
“Experts in the study of human behaviour assert that something dies in a child when he or she is sexually molested. Our courts must do a far better job in protecting our children from paedophiles in particular and rapists in general.
“The rape of anyone is deplorable and egregious, but the rape of a child is ‘the worst of the worst’ and persons convicted should face life sentences,” he added.
Bishop Hall also dismissed recent public comments about rape statistics, saying that the “debate by top crime officials about rape statistics is completely puerile and irrelevant to rape victims.”
His statement came after Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade said last week that reports of rape are on the decline in comparison to last year. This contradicted comments by Supt Paul Rolle and State Minister for National Security Keith Bell, both of whom spoke recently about a spike in reported rapes.
“Rape is not a ‘woman’s issue’,” Bishop Hall said. “On its deepest level it shows that some men stop being human and sink to an animalistic level. This indicates severe issues at the core of an individual, and the community at large. Most men rape when they are impotent in other areas.
“Some Christian psychologists suggest that secular and humanistic education, with its emphasis on Godless evolution positing that we evolve from lesser animals is responsible for some men acting like animals.
“We call on the attorney general and other relevant authorities to fix a minimum sentence for convicted child molesters,” Bishop Hall said.
Meanwhile BASV&CA has also voiced its concern over short sentences for convicted child rapists.
“On October 20, Kendrick Rolle was sentenced. . .to five years imprisonment and ordered to receive psychological testing and treatment for the 2013 rape of a six-year-old girl,” the group said in a statement. “The period of 16 months served while awaiting trial was taken into consideration. BASV&CA holds the position that the sentence is too short, especially considering the 2001 conviction for assault of a 13-year-old girl for which he was fined.”
The group is also calling for the government to keep its pledge to create a sex offenders registry.
“Since the year prior to taking office in 2012, current Minister of National Security Dr Bernard Nottage has been calling for the implementation of Marco’s Law. This proposed amendment to the Child Protection Act would ensure the implementation of an alert system prompting authorities to take immediate action when a child is reported missing. The amendment also seeks to put into effect a convicted sexual offenders registry. The law was passed in 2013, but has yet to be implemented and is not expected to be retroactive.
“BASV&CA invites corporate Bahamas, civic organisations, and the general public to join the call to action by attending the demonstration in Rawson Square.”