By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Court of Appeal has ordered a retrial in the case of a pastor who allegedly gave a teenage boy alcohol and fondled him.
Arsenio Butler was initially charged in 2014 with indecent assault and child cruelty, the latter charge he shared with co-accused Devin Sears. Their case has been bouncing between courts since then.
In the initial trial, Butler was acquitted of indecent assault but convicted of child cruelty along with Sears and sentenced to a 12-month prison term. That sentence was suspended pending appeal. When the Crown appealed the magistrate’s decision to drop the indecent assault charge, the Court of Appeal sent the matter back to the Magistrate’s Court to be retried.
According to a Court of Appeal ruling dated October 29, a further appeal in the matter has been allowed and the judges have ordered that it be sent back to the Magistrate’s Court for rehearing before a different magistrate. A lawyer for the men said yesterday the appeal has been allowed with respect to the charges of indecent assault and child cruelty.
The virtual complainant in the matter alleged that after the pair gave him alcohol, Butler touched him, then 15, against his will. Magistrate Andrew Forbes, in October 2015, determined that a sufficient case had not been made by the Crown for Butler to answer to the charge of indecent assault.
However, Magistrate Andrew Forbes also found that Butler’s and Sears’ testimony was unconvincing.
“If one accepts all they have said, two adult men elected to transport a minor out after 11pm. It is clear they were irresponsible,” he said. “And then suggest that the minor was somehow leading them in this foray.
“The evidence of the virtual complainant coupled with evidence of the virtual complainant’s mother and the opinion of the doctor suggests that he was plied with substances which caused the effects that were observed,” the judge said before convicting them of child cruelty.
“This court accepts the evidence of the virtual complainant that he was given alcohol by these two individuals, the reasons are unclear, but this court accepts that he was provided the substance by Mr Butler and Mr Sears,” Magistrate Forbes said during the trial.