CRISIS Centre Director Dr Sandra Dean Patterson yesterday said she is concerned that a lawyer representing a man convicted of sexually assaulting a then 11-year-old girl is advocating a three-year probation term as punishment.
In a statement yesterday, Dr Patterson referred to a case, in which the accused has been convicted, but is still awaiting sentencing.
“The attorney submitted that probation would not negatively impact on the now 19-year-old victim,” Dr Patterson said. “He claimed that the girl has been shown to be strong and had not appeared to be negatively affected by what had transpired.
“The emotional havoc that this molestation and violation creates for a child is often not seen or recognised by family and friends.”
“In situations where the child does exhibit signs of distress, these are often discounted or ignored,” she said.
“No child, however resilient, goes through the experience of molestation or rape unscathed. Many carry this nightmare with them well into their adult life. All children who experience this require intervention and help in coming to terms with this violation, which is made even worse, when it occurs at the hands of someone the child trusts.”
The victim’s advocate said the punishment for unlawful sex crimes in this country is life imprisonment, which “underscores the serious nature with which society regards this offence”.
She added that in delivering sentences, the court must weigh the facts of the case with the protection and welfare of the community.
“This communication is designed to underscore the gravity and seriousness of rape and the violation of young girls which happens all too frequently in our nation.
“The Bahamas ranks among countries in the world with the highest incidence of reported rape per capita and needs to address this face on. We must ensure that perpetrators are identified, prosecuted and punished. The Bahamas Crisis Centre takes the opportunity to again call for the inclusion of victim impact statements to be presented in court in camera, which can assist the court in appreciating the emotional damage that ensures from this violation.”