More jail for sex offenders

| 19/11/2013

(CNS): Legislative Assembly members have unanimously backed a private members motion to introduce a mandatory minimum five year sentence for sex offences categorized as indecent assault on women and girls and to increase the maximum sentence that a judge can pass to 20 years. The proposal was presented to the parliament by the PPM’s veteran back-bencher and member for Bodden Town, Anthony Eden, and supported by his district colleague, Al Suckoo. It was largely in response to the community outrage over a six month sentence given to a father who had repeatedly molested his 8-year-old daughter over a two year period. Eden also noted the campaign by local activist Sandra Catron pressing legislators to introduce a mandatory minimum jail term.

During the presentation of his motion Eden referred to a number of cases in the courts this year involving exceptionally unpleasant cases of sexual abuse on children and teenagers and pointed to what appeared to be other unduly lenient sentences, given the gravity of the crimes.

The former health and human services minister said that while the parliament recognised the separation of powers between legislators who passed the laws and the judiciary which deals directlywith the administration of justice, it was still up to the elected arm of government, which represented the people, to send a message to the courts about their expectations when things got “out of hand”.

“It is time we, as leaders, get a grasp of what is happening in our islands,” Eden added.

The bill, which proposes to introduce a five year term for any crime falling under indecent assault, will tie the hands of judges when it comes to minor offences in the category. However, it would provide for harsher penalties for sex offences in circumstances that may fall short of rape but are equally as abhorrent, especially involving girls under 12.

The motion drew full support from across the legislative divide, with the opposition leader backing the call as well as both independent members. The government front bench also backed the bill wholeheartedly. The premier said that the goal was to send a clear message that this type of crime would not be tolerated and that during the review of the amendment to the penal code the whole category of sex offences would be reviewed, including offences against boys and men.

During the debate it was clear that all members were appalled by what they considered to be some of the manifestly lenient sentences handed down for serious sex offences recently committed against young girls. They also discussed the worrying prevalence of the crime and lamented the past reluctance to talk about the issues and the failure to deal with the people involved. Members related anecdotes where offenders got away with horrific sex crimes, including some who had hidden behind the clergy.

Several MLAs also raised the issue of the naming and shaming of offenders during the debate. They noted that while they appreciated the need to protect victims, the failure to name the sexual predators committing the crimes made it far easier for these offenders to repeat their predatory behaviour when they were released from jail. 

According to the law, the media is prevented from publishing anything that may identify the victim of sexual abuse and when the perpetrator is a relative, as is the case in many of the sex crimes handled by the local courts, naming the offender could lead to the identification of a victim. Several members offered their support to some form of register as a means of protecting potentially new unsuspecting victims.

Following Attorney General Samuel Bulgin’s acknowledgment of the members' concerns, he offered his chamber's support to review the penal code and look at increasing the penalties. But the independent member for North Side, Ezzard Miller, warned the government’s lawyer that the LA's position went beyond a “willing to increase the penalties”, as Bulgin had described it. 

Miller said the attorney general needed “to see this as a set of instructions” from the legislators that he was to do something about it now. He called for the changes to come in the next sitting as this would be one piece of legislation that could be called an emergency and where government’s waiver of the 21 day rule for publication of a bill would be justified.

As he offered government’s formal support for the motion, the premier stated that it would move quickly on the proposals because the unanimous support of parliament was a powerful message.

Those sentiments had been noted earlier in the day when the independent member for East End, Arden McLean, had emphasised how powerful the Legislative Assembly was when all members worked together.

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  1. Knot S Smart says:

    If the prison cannot get physical control of the prisoner's cell phones – how will they ever stop them from using drugs?

  2. Slowpoke says:

    I don’t remember saying anything about not incarcerating people for this crime. 

    However, if you think that people sit around at night thinking “I want to do this thing and anyway I will only get sixmonths, and obviously I would not do it, if I got five years”, you are seriously uninformed.

    Also, treatment works, which is why there was a training program at Northward earlier this year based on actual science, instead of hysteria.

    • Anonymous says:

      Let's have some real statistics then regarding this 'training' program. 

      The simple fact is that you would never be able to tell how many convicts reoffend because half the time sexual offence cases do not get reported. 

      Government should be spending our money on mental health care for the victims before spending it on a rehabiliation program. 


  3. Anonymous says:

    Wow is all I have to say 5-20 max years being considered for sexual assault. In the past I have worked in Cayman as a child protection social worker and have seen first hand the reality of the physical and emotional pain these sick men AND women do to others. I have seen as young as 3 yrs old. It broke my heart as everyone knew about it. Yes the government is taking the first steps necessary to initiate justice but  to put such a short maximum sentence on a crime that basically equates to murdering someone's spirit, trust and sometimes ability to even function in life, amazes me. We are forgetting that sexually transmitted diseases are also sometimes passed during these crimes. If left untreated as they are often done in incest cases, which are way too common now a days on island, this affects the victim even further. Sometimes for the rest of their life. 20 years maximum is not enough for robbing a child of his/her innocents. To those who tout rehabilitation…do you know the success rates vs the recendency rate? Not good odds. Sure you can try but do so while the perpetrator is in jail for a long time. What we do need is access to effective victim services before helping theses people, there tends to be more focus on helping the perpetrator than the victim. I agree with Ezzard Miller…listen up Attorney General

  4. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Sandra Catron!! None of this would have happened if not for her continued efforts.Anthony has been in office how long? Never done anything about this issue before now! I guess they have paid attention to that petition.

  5. Anonymous says:

    While I am happy to hear that our Government representatives are taking sexual offences against children more seriously it is my opinion that this proposal for a mandatory 5 year sentence falls far short of what these disgusting predators deserve.

    The reality is that children who are raped or sexually abused do not get over this event in the short or medium term and are in most cases in fact scarred for the rest of their lives.

    Many of these children fear for years after the event that their peers in school will find out about what has happened to them.

    The discovery of this event in many cases leads to teasing, ridicule and bullying by the victim's school peers.

    This then leads to further degradation of the child's self respect and self esteem. Depression sets in and the child's ability to live a normal childhood is all but lost.

    The child's focus on education is also diminished and they no longer care about learning in school in order to make their family, friends or even themselves proud.

    In many cases the child feels disgusted with themselves and does not believe that it is possible to be loved by anyone because their body has been tainted.

    This follows into their future relationships during teenage and adult years and in many cases results in the grown child seeking out relationships with partners who do not truly love and respect them because they do not feel that they deserve to have a'good' partner or they feel that if a 'good' partner knew the truth about their past that they would not want to be with them.

    Many girls who end up in these 'bad' relationships due to their low self esteem also end up becoming pregnant during their teenage years.

    Future generations then suffer because these children grow up with a parent who is incapable of instilling a sense of self respect.

    Let's not forget about sexually transmitted diseases that many of these children contract because of the sexual offence. In these cases the child definitely feels disgusted with themselves and their ability to find good relationships is pretty much impossible.

    It is my opinion that sexual offences against children are equivalent to murder.

    Although their physical body can heal from the ordeal these heinous acts basically murder the child's spirit.

    A 20 year mandatory sentence seems more appropriate with a maximum sentence of life being possible depending on the severity of the act and whether sexually transmitted diseases were contracted by the child.

    Any sexual offence law that is passed should also include the ability to convict family, friends, government employees, police, school teachers, or any other person that may have known that the act occurred but refused to act.

    A defence by these individuals that they feared for their own lives should not be considered by the court as a valid reason why these individuals did not act on the knowledge of the sexual offence. Their cowardice is just as disgusting as the sexual offence.

    I have first hand knowledge of the number of sexual offences that occur in Cayman from people who work with Department of Children and Family Services and the Child Protection unit of Police and I can tell you that these offences occur regularly every week in Cayman.

    And please do not be so ignorant to think that it is only men that are raping children, women are also involved too. Not only are women performing sexual acts on their own children but in some cases women are prostituting their own children to others to support drug and alcohol addiction.

    It's time to stop these predators and bystanders. Lock them up and throw away the key. Let them know what it feels like when their future is taken from them the way they stole the future of a child.

    Don't waste time and money on rehabilitationas one commenter suggested. XXXX

    • Hoping for better days says:

      Great post! People need to wake-up. This is a sick place with alot ofsick men and women.

      Stop the abuse, stop the raping and molesting of innocent children!


  6. Anonymous says:

    About time!

    Thank you all MLA's for finally bringing this most important issue out of the closet.

    And I would think most victims would be ok with identification of the perpetrators of these crimes…especially if we all do our part to teach that victims / children are not to be shamed for abuse done to them.

    Thanks to all our MLA's for this unanimous message!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Tha wha u get lol!

  8. Anonymous says:

    However laudible the goal mandatory sentences are a bad idea.  Indecent assault covers a huge range of offences.   Are they really suggesting that someone should get 5 years in prison for slapping a 25 year old woman on the backside over her jeans?  It's clearly not acceptable but it seems a bit harsh. (Especially when you consider that you'd get less for punching her in the face and breaking her nose.)

  9. Anonymous says:

    If you haven't yet, please view and share the local psas on child sexual abuse in Cayman:

  10. Anonymous says:

    READ THE FRIGGIN ARTICLE!!!!! Then post your comments!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Well done and a big thank you to our elected legislators for starting this (long overdue) process and instructing the AG that it must be addressed with a sense of urgency. We have been too lackadaisical in earlier attempts on any of these types of issues – those responsible would not accept recommendations to strengthen the sexual harassment section of the Bill to enact the gender equality law a couple of years ago, and when that was followed a little while later by a separate sexual harassment law, again too narrow a mindset was taken in the drafting. And similarly the public has been calling for a long time for much stronger deterrents to curb sexual and other abuse of children.  Whatever happened to the principle that real men do not hurt women and those smaller than themselves? We need to make sexual and other forms of abuse completely 'unacceptable' – and do so with the sense of urgency mandated by our elected representatives in your article above and with the breadth of scope that is necessary. Thanks. 

    • Hear, hear says:

      Hear, Hear, the people have spoken through their representatives and all agreed.  Mr. AG this is NOT a suggestion, but a change to the LAW. 


  12. Len Layman says:

    There should be no gender bias here. Any child boy or girl, sexually abused in any manner is equally as sickening.  The perpetrator should be held to the same level of responsibility regardless of the gender of their victim.

    Think about it; close your eyes and envision a child being raped or other wise abused. Visualize it happening to a 10 year old girl, then a 10 year old boy.  Imagine they are both your children.

    Should the person abusing your son get a lighter sentence than the one abusing your daughter? 

    The law should not discriminate both should be held to the same measure of the law.!


    • Anonymous says:

      I totally agree and I thank Minister Rivers for making that point very clearly during her contribution to the debate.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Paragraph 6 states Boys and Men, please read.

  14. Slowpoke says:

    Did any of these clowns even mention "treatment"? 

    Do they really think that simply imposing harsher sentences will make one iota of difference?  Another example of politicians babbling ideology, instead of reading the research.

    Prevention and treatment programmes are costly, but ultimately much more effective than simply locking up people. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Treatment? Perhaps the ones you refer to as clowns know that this  type of sickness or behavior cannot be cured. They must be Locked away forever and ever.

    • Anonymous says:

      Castration, Frontal Labotomy, stoning , crucifiction or all of the above

    • Anonymous says:

      Too many perpetrators go through treatment and are no better than before.  So confinement and treatment can work together and there may be good results.cMc

    • SSM345 says:

      Treatment? Like what, whipping them 100 times everyday for the duration of their sentences? Castration? I think you will mind that once a sex offender, always a sex offender, it is just the frequency of committing the acts that will change, do you want Jeffrey Barnes as an example?

  15. Anonymous says:

    Paragraph six states boy and men.   READ!!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Paragraph 6 state "the whole category of sex offences would be reviewed, including offences against boys and men." The operative word is "reviewed".  Crimes against women and girls and boys and men should be dealt with at the same time.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Its about time.It should be that all gender of children are protected equally.5 years is only a start for an offender-It should be 10 years mandatory sentences.Victims suffer with a lifetime of horrible memories of rape and molestation.

    Congrats to Sandra Catron for her efforts in advocating for this change.

  17. Anonymous says:

    The abuse of boys has been very common and has been just as well (or even better) covered up than that of girls. At least one MLA has turned a blind eye to it in the past when done by a family member and most of these MLAs know a certain "man of God" who has been repeatedly implicated. There seems to be a feeling that it's not as "nasty" as abusing young girls.

  18. nice says:

    Eden and Suckoo seem to be able to command the respect of all sides of the house, these gentlemen are the kind of leaders we want and I congratulate them both. I also am glad to see that Mr Eden is working with the new poltician, he has a lot to teach him. Well done guys keep it up!



  19. Kinfused says:

    So what are they saying – no one molests little boys or it’s ok to do so??!

    • Anonymous says:

      To:Submitted by Kinfused (not verified) on Tue, 19/11/2013 – 08:56                                   Did you read the entire article? If not please read it through and make note of this sentence "The premier said that the goal was to send a clear message that this type of crime would not be tolerated and that during the review of the amendment to the penal code the whole category of sex offences would be reviewed, including offences against boys and men".

      • Anonymous says:

        Some people read and do not comprehend.  They comprehend what is in their mindset.  We can only ask for guidance and knowledge to be bestowed on the incomprehendible.

      • Kinfused says:

        Yes I saw that, but am concerned that there is some subtle nuance being used where boys and men are concerned. The problem is that this is often wrapped up in homophobia and there is no indication where the review will take them in this regard.

        Hopefully the safeguarding of all children will be the goal.

        • Anonymous says:

          You are correct about that.  I know of a victim that was branded a homosexual.  He left the island.

  20. Anonymous says:

    What about boys? People fail to realize that boys are just as much vicitims of sexual abuse as girls, in fact, some are chosen as victims because the perpetrator views the boy as even less apt to report it. Our boys are just as precious to protect as our girls.

    • Anonymous says:

      "The premier said that the goal was to send a clear message that this type of crime would not be tolerated and that during the review of the amendment to the penal code the whole category of sex offences would be reviewed, including offences against boys and men." – If you read the article you wouldnt have missed that bit of information. I merely skimmed though it and got the relevant points. READ beore you POST!

      • Anonymous says:

        Listen, A**wipe, maybe you should read the article. While there is commentary in the article about what people believe should be in the law for both men and boys, in paragraphs 1 & 5 it makes reference to specific areas of the actual law that only stipulate punishment for acts against women or girls. People can believe all they want about what's also wrong for boys, but unless it becomes a part of the actual law, there is no equal recourse for them.

        • Anonymous says:

          Its more than obvious by your choice of words who the real a**wipe is. You cant even have a decent witten conversation without verbally abusing the other posters! How about some recourse for that! It states clear that it will adressed. We just have to continue to ask questions and stand behind what we believe to see the full result! My mommy always said " If you have nothing nice to say, dont say anything at all".

      • Anonymous says:

        The facts are always missed by most of us, who are eager to jump on the gravy train to blame or find fault. Read and digest, process information, you get results.