By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
A BOY who testified in court yesterday of his alleged sexual assault by a man he knew said he didn’t know if what was happening to him at the time was “right or wrong”.
The child, who refused to face anyone other than Senior Justice Stephen Isaacs during his testimony, said he now knows that the alleged abuse was “wrong”.
Stephen Serrette, who is accused of committing the abuse, sat in the prisoner’s dock as the child gave testimony.
Serrette, leader of the fringe third party Christian People’s Movement, has denied the allegations. Attorney Halson Moultrie represents him. Aaron Johnson is prosecuting the case.
The accused, who is on bail, shifted inside the dock as the minor entered the courtroom where his gaze followed the boy to the stand.
The timid complainant said he was six years old when the sexual abuse occurred in December 2010 where he, his then 10-year-old brother, mother and the accused were at home.
His mother, he said, was in her bathroom taking a bath.
He and his brother were taking a shower in their bathroom when the accused allegedly instructed the brother to penetrate him with his “private”.
“Did your brother do as he was told?” the prosecutor asked.
“Yes sir,” the boy said, still facing the judge while glancing to his right every so often.
Mr Johnson asked the boy if anything happened to him between that occasion and December 2011.
“Something did happen...this time it was the same bathroom,” the boy said.
“What, if anything, happened?” Mr Johnson asked.
“He (the accused) pushed his private in my hip,” the child said.
“Was your mother at home at the time?” the prosecutor asked.
“No....she was in prison,” the boy said.
The child was asked if he was assaulted more than once. The boy said he was, as often as “seven to 10 times” between December 2009 and December 2010.
He also claimed that he was assaulted “three to five times” between December 2010 and December 2011.
“I didn’t know if it was right or wrong at the time...(but now) I think it’s wrong,” the child said.
“Who did you tell first about the abuse?” the prosecutor asked.
“I told my mother first.... I told her what he did,” the child said.
“Why did you take so long to tell?” the prosecutor asked.
“He said don’t tell anyone. I thought he was going to beat me,” the child said.
“When he did that, did you feel anything?” the prosecutor asked.
“I felt a little bit of pain,” the boy said.
“You told anyone else of the abuse?” Mr Johnson asked. The child said he also told two police officers and a doctor.
“Did anyone tell you to lie on this man?” the prosecutor asked.
“No, sir,” the boy replied.
“Did you do anything with the doctor?” Mr Johnson asked.
“I drew a picture of what happened,” the boy said, adding that no one assisted him with the sketch that depicted what appeared to be an adult bending over another individual from behind.
In cross-examination, Mr Moultrie asked the complainant: “Are you afraid right now?”
The boy said he was.
“Could you tell the court why?” Mr Moultrie asked.
“I’ve never been in a courtroom before,” the boy said.
“You remember having a meeting with your school principal and Social Services?” the lawyer asked. The boy said yes.
“Did you ever say to anyone at the school that you were molested?” the lawyer asked.
The boy said: “No, sir.”
The boy’s brother, now 14, was also called to give evidence of his alleged abuse.
However, the boy appeared more withdrawn than his younger sibling and much less comprehending, resulting in the judge deeming him “incompetent” of giving testimony.
Prior to the younger sibling’s testimony, the jury heard the evidence of psychologist Dr Novia Carter-Higgs.
The physician, who has a terminal degree in education and psychology with expertise in sexual abuse, testified that the younger of the two boys “came into receive a forensic interview due to information received.”
“I went in to find out what occurred,” the psychologist said, noting that the mother was not present while the interview was conducted.
“It was a detailed session where in the first five to 10 minutes basic information about the child (is obtained) just to ensure that the child’s mental status is intact. It also allows the child to warm up to the psychologist,” the jury heard.
The witness said the child was given art therapy based on what was revealed in the initial session.
“It’s a form of allowing the child’s mind to open up without asking probing questions,” Dr Carter-Higgs said.
“In your assessment of the boy in relation to that picture, what is that saying?” the prosecutor asked.
“It’s evidence of sexual assault he was witness to or involved in as well,” the doctor said.
Mr Moultrie, in cross-examination, asked the witness if the mother of the boy stated her reasons “for bringing the child to you?”
The doctor said the case came as a result of a referral by another physician and the Bahamas Crisis Centre upon information of suspected sexual abuse.
The witness denied having a conflict of interest in the case.
The jury then heard testimony from the boys’ mother.
She said she was at home with her boys on March 1, 2013 and during a conversation with her younger son, he opened up to her about the sexual abuse.
She said she contacted police who told her to take the boy to a medical doctor the following day, which she did.
The mother admitted that between 2004 and 2010, she was the breadwinner in her home and had worked long hours to run a successful business.
The accused she said, had lost his job and was at her house often, as he was entrusted with her children’s care.
She said she didn’t have any suspicions of the younger boy’s abuse until early 2013 when certain information was brought to her attention. However, she did not expect it to be the accused.
“Do you have any animosity towards the accused?” Mr Johnson asked.
The mother said even though she and the accused had difficulties in the past, he had never given her any signs before that he was doing anything inappropriate towards her boys.
“These are minor children, you don’t strip them of their innocence,” she said in visible anger.
“Did you ever coach your children?” the prosecutor asked the witness.
“I spoke to my boy of what he would experience in court. In terms of that yes I spoke to him,” she said, but denied coaching her boy to lie.
In cross-examination, Mr Moultrie suggested to the mother that her son “would say anything for you.”
She denied this, adding that her son “knows right from wrong.”
“And you taught him this?” the lawyer probed. The mother said she did.
“What caused you to be in custody?” Mr Moultrie then asked.
“That evidence is irrelevant to these proceedings,” Senior Justice Isaacs told the lawyer.
Mr Moultrie suggested that it was relevant, as it established that the mother of the complainant had a motive for trying to imprison his client after her brief detention.
The witness said she cut ties with the accused because she was finally frustrated with “his cruelty to me.”
“You well know these allegations are taboo in this society and you wanted to ruin this man for what you claim he did to you,” the accused’s lawyer suggested.
The witness denied the suggestion.
“You despise him for your downfall,” Mr Moultrie said.
“I’m an adult!” the witness said in protest.
“You made love to him on numerous occasions (in the past), correct?” Mr Moultrie asked.
“What is the relevance?” the judge interjected.
The lawyer explained that the size of his client’s penis should prove that the allegation of sexual assault is not possible.
“Do you have another question this witness can answer?” the judge asked.
Mr Moultrie asked the witness if the allegations were made before or after her release from custody in 2012. She said it was afterwards.
She claimed that the accused had accessed her company’s account books, which led to her arrest and detention. However, she denied that the allegations were a plot of revenge against him.
In re-examination, the prosecutor asked the witness if the accused was well endowed.
“I don’t even remember,” she said.
The judge said he saw no relevance for that line of questioning from either side “unless we’re going to have a show and tell.”
The trial resumes today.