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Jamaican rape accuser in Bahamas living in fear

Published:Tuesday | December 23, 2014 | 12:00 AMNoelle Nicolls

The Jamaican woman claiming to have been raped by a senior immigration officer in The Bahamas says she has had to be in hiding, as her plea to the Bahamian authorities for safe housing while the investigation is under way is not being treated with urgency.

The woman, who is from Ocho Rios in St Ann, said she would not return to her Bahamian home because of fears for her safety, and so she sought assistance from the Royal Bahamas Police Force.

"I spoke to them around

5 p.m. on Wednesday. I told them I am scared. The officer (with whom she spoke) said, 'I will talk to my boss and get back to you.' All now I don't get back no call," said the alleged victim.

She said an officer involved in the investigation advised her to go home and remain calm and not to speak to the media or an attorney.

Contacted yesterday, Superin-tendent Paul Rolle, the officer in charge of the Central Detective Unit, said he had no comment on the matter.

His department is responsible for the rape investigation currently under way.

Since then, the alleged victim has been in hiding, fearing retaliation over her reporting of the rape to the police.

There was no safe facility to accommodate her entire family, she said.

Afraid for her life

"I feel down. I feel bad. I feel scared. I feel mad ... . I am afraid for my life," she said.

"I feel real terrible. The police called me to say they arrested him. Since then, they haven't called me back to see if I am all right. They haven't called me to say nothing, and I told them that I am scared. I don't know what to do," she said.

The accused immigration officer, who was arrested last Wednesday, has since been released while an investigation is carried out.

In the meantime, he has been suspended from duties.

The alleged victim is the mother of three young children.

Christina Galanos, a criminal-defence attorney not associated with the case, said rape investigations in The Bahamas are usually time-consuming.

She said that based on her experience, it was usual for the police to question or release a rape suspect shortly after arrest, especially if the accused is someone like a police officer or another officer of the State.

"Evidence collection takes time, and they cannot file charges unless they meet the burden of proof: beyond reasonable doubt. In the case of DNA testing, they send that away and that takes forever to come back, up to three or six months. If you arrest, the law says you have 48 to 96 hours to charge them," she said.