Wed | Feb 19, 2020

Justice delayed - Jamaican victim waiting 10 years for trial date in Barbados cops’ sex assault case

Published:Sunday | January 26, 2020 | 12:34 AMKaryl Walker - Gleaner Writer

Almost a decade after accusing two cops of sexually assaulting her while she was detained at a police station in Bridgetown, Barbados, a Jamaican woman has grown “frustrated and tired” as she has yet be given an opportunity to tell her story in a court of law.

The incident occurred in February 2010, but came to regional attention in April 2011, less than a month after another Jamaican, Shanique Myrie, arrived in Barbados and was subjected to demeaning cavity searches by a female immigration officer. By 2014, Myrie had taken the matter to the Caribbean Court of Justice and was awarded damages for breaches of her rights.

But, on Friday, the woman involved in the earlier incident said, despite serving a sentence for a crime she admitted she committed in naivety, it has taken her 10 years to see a either a criminal or civil trial date set for the cops in the Eastern Caribbean country’s courts.

“I am very frustrated and tired. I admit that what I did was wrong, but what those police did to me was even more wrong. I need my day in court to face those who abused me and made me feel like less than a human being. [For them] to be held accountable. Why is it taking so long?” the woman, who was 27 at the time of her alleged assault, said as she spoke with The Sunday Gleaner.

The complainant arrived at the Grantley Adams International Airport in Barbados on February 26, 2010. In her luggage was two kilos of marijuana – a breach of both Jamaica’s and Barbados’ anti-narcotics laws. The woman cleared immigration but was delayed by customs officers who found the weed in a lined section of her luggage.

She was arrested.

The woman claimed that she was mocked by the airport officials, who denied her the right to an attorney and carted her off to the Central Police Station in the country’s capital to be processed.

That’s when her ordeal started, she claims.

The woman said she was subjected to sexual assault by two Barbadian cops and even forced to perform oral sex on one of them, who she said reeked of alcohol.

“They treated me as if I was an animal. One cop came in first ... while I was in a holding cell and then another cop came and raped me before forcing me to perform oral sex on him. Then I must wait 10 years for the case to come to trial? I need justice and closure,” the woman said, her voice cracking.

SUBMIT TO DEMANDS

She alleges that one cop came into her cell and demanded that she take off her clothes and submit to his demands. When he was finished, she said, he smiled and made his way out. After that, another cop entered.

“He was clearly drunk. He smelled like liquor and gave me a pill to take and liquor to drink before he raped me ... . After he was finished, he took my clothes and wiped his semen off the floor. Then he took out his thing and forced me to do what I never ever did to any man in Jamaica. I was frightened. I did not know how to react, trust me. When he laughed and left, a man came in and wiped the floor with a strange smelling chemical. I have never gotten over that,” she said.

The worst part of her ordeal, she claims, was that a female cop aided and abetted the crimes.

The woman told The Sunday Gleaner that the female cop – who was in charge of guarding the holding area for accused females – opened the door to her cell and allowed the cops to have their way with her.

“She is a woman like me. Even if they don’t like Jamaicans, why would a woman allow men to abuse another woman, even if I had committed a crime?” she asked.

Two Barbadian cops, Jonathan Barrow and Melanie Denny, were in 2011 respectively charged with serious indecency and aiding and abetting, after being pointed out by the Jamaican complainant. The second male cop could not be found.

The two charged are out on bail.

Jaydene Thomas is a Jamaican attorney who represents the interests of the woman who claimed she was violated by the very persons who should have ensured that her human rights were protected.

Thomas is also deeply concerned about the amount of time it has taken for justice to take its course.

“My client needs to have her day in court. This matter has stretched out for too long. Justice delayed is justice denied. It’s not just for my client, but for the accused persons as well,” Thomas said.

When contacted, Jamaica’s honorary consul to Barbados Ella Hoyos said she was not aware of the incident.

“This is a surprise to me. Astonishing. I am unaware of the issue,” Hoyos told The Sunday Gleaner, noting that it would have taken place before her appointment in 2016.

Hoyos advised the complainant’s lawyer, Thomas, to ensure that the government of Jamaica – through her consul – was apprised of the court proceedings as it would be imprudent for her consul to get involved without being officially notified.

“Ms Thomas should write to the attorney general of Barbados and the chief justice advising them of the situation her client is facing. I am not aware. She should also advise the consul,” Hoyos said.

But Thomas, after stating that she had written to the Barbadian Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite, Chief Immigration Officer Erin Griffith, the former Jamaican Consul General to Barbados Sharon Saunders, the Barbadian Solicitor General Caroline Edwards, and Barbadian Police Commissioner Darwin Dottin about the anguish being experienced by her client, was firm in her response.

“I did my due diligence,” Thomas said. “What is needed now is for the case to come before a trial judge. Ten years is really too much.”

The Sunday Gleaner made several attempts to contact the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in Barbados, without success.

karyl.walker@gleanerjm.com