A 42-year-old man from St. Vincent was found guilty of indecent assault on Wednesday after he was accused of molesting his 14-year-old daughter repeatedly in 2015.
The victim was touched inappropriately on four different occasions — sometimes when her 15-year-old brother was in an adjoining room and her mother was at work, the court heard.
Hearings for the case have stretched on since the man’s arrest more than two years ago, while the girl’s account of abuse has been the subject of cross-examination.
And this week, Senior Magistrate Tamia Richards told the defendant — who this publication has chosen not to name in order to protect the identity of the victim — that his story lacked consistency and evidence.
“I have found excellent support to her testimony,” Ms. Richards said during the Magistrates’ Court sitting at the House of Assembly building. “I have no reason to believe she would have lied.”
Reporting the abuse
The alleged sexual abuse took place in the homes of both the victim’s mother and father, Ms. Richards told the court.
The defendant and the victim’s mother divorced in 2015 but had long been separated due to reports of domestic violence, and therefore lived in separate locations on Tortola.
The first time the defendant abused his daughter, the magistrate said, he molested her in the living room while her mother and brother were at church.
During the second incident, he touched her inappropriately while she was watching TV in her mother’s bedroom, the court heard. The defendant allegedly sexually assaulted her on another occasion when her mother was at work and she was dressed to go to bed.
On the fourth occasion, the girl was at her father’s house when he allegedly abused her, the magistrate said. When the victim asked to take a PlayStation game home with her, the defendant said she could only have the game in exchange for “it,” Ms. Richards said.
More than once, the girl told the defendant that he should not touch her and that it made her “feel weird,” the court heard.
The victim finally told her brother what had happened in late December 2015. The court heard that she said while crying, “Daddy has been molesting me.”
Her brother allegedly responded, “Dad? Daddy?”
Though the 14-year-old asked her brother not to tell their mother, he did anyway. After asking her daughter if the story were true and hearing her answer in the affirmative, the mother took her daughter to file a police report.
The defendant maintained a not-guilty plea throughout the case.
During the trial, his daughter, ex-wife and son took the stand. The victim said in her testimony that she had a good relationship with her father before the abuse, and would often play dominoes with him and her brother and “cracked jokes.”
Her mother backed the account of sexual assault, saying that her daughter “loved her father too much” to be lying.
The defendant admitted in his testimony to hitting his ex-wife during their marriage, but denied abusing their daughter.
Ms. Richards said that at one point he held up his fingers and asked the court if he could have actually put them in his daughter. The man also said that his daughter was not his girlfriend, and that he had a girlfriend he could call if he wanted to.
The defendant has been represented by attorneys Ruthilia Maximea and Andrew Morrison, who have previously argued during trial that because their client was not forthcoming with snack money, the victim wanted to punish him by making up a story.
After the guilty verdict on Wednesday, Ms. Maximea outlined why her client should not receive any further custodial sentence.
The defendant has been on remand for two years, two months and 13 days and now “knows the consequences of his actions,” she argued.
He has been in the territory since 2000, working as a labourer and doing general maintenance, and his skills are in high demand post-Irma, Ms. Maximea added.
If given the opportunity to search for a job, there is “plenty his hands will find to do,” she said.
No date was set for sentencing.