Bellhop acquitted in sex case

| 29/08/2014

(CNS): A local man accused of sexually assaulting a teenage girl when he worked as a bellhop at the Ritz Carlton-Grand Cayman walked away from court Friday after a jury took less than 3 hours to find him not guilty. Iyilla Delmar Spence admitted having a consensual sexual encounter with the girl, who was 15 at the time, but gave evidence that he didn’t know how old the girl was and thought she was a college student, making her over the age of consent. The teenager, who was staying at the hotel with her parents in March last year, claimed she had told Spence exactly how old she was and that she did not consent to any of the bellhop's sexual advances.

However, the jury of five men and two women were not convinced and acquitted the 40 year old man of all charges. The crown's case against Spence hung mostly on the evidence of the complainant, which contained a number of inconsistencies.

The sexual encounter between the couple took place, according to Spence, on 29 March 2013 after the couple had first “kissed and cuddled” following a tour he had given the young girl of the hotel on the previous day. He said that they had then met again the next day when he delivered a package to her room, where they engaged in a much more intimate, but consensual, sexual encounter.

The teen, however, claimed that following the hotel tour on the 28 March Spence had sexually assaulted her on the stairwell of the hotel before rushing away after hearing someone come. She claims that the following day she received a call from the front desk to come and collect a package and when she headed down to do so she met Spence with a gift. Returning to the room with her because, she said, she did not have a key, Spence did not leave after putting down the package but instead sexually assaulted her for a second time.

She later told her parents of the indecent assault and the incident was reported to the police.

In his first interview Spence denied having any encounter with the teenager at all but later admitted their liaison, stating that it was consensual and he believed her to be above the age of consent. He claimed that his original denial of thesexual interlude was because he was afraid he would lose his job.

The visiting Grand Court judge, Justice Owen, directed the jury that in order to find Spence guilty they had to be sure that the teen had not consented and that the defendant knew the girl was underage. He also warned them not to let whatever moral concerns they had about the incident to cloud their judgment, as he said it was a court of law not of morality.

Following the verdict Spence was visibly relieved but the family and the victim, who were present in court, were angry at the result. Speaking after the jury handed down their decision the teenage girl told CNS that she could not understand how the defendant could have been acquitted when he had admitted having a sexual encounter with her when she was underage.

“Regardless of how heavy you are or what your body looks like you cannot legally consent if you are 15, so if they lie and say you are, it doesn’t work out. The law is the law and I was underage and I am stunned by the verdict. There should be protection for young people brave enough to pursue an offender. I am not going to let this go,” she said. “I refuse to let others go through what I have gone through.”

The young girl’s parents also confirmed that despite the verdict they will still be pursuing a civil case, which was filed earlier this year, against the Ritz Carlton, Grand Cayman. They are seeking compensation and punitive damages from the hotel for what they say is the physical and psychological damage allegedly suffered by their daughter. The suit claims the staff and management at the hotel had a duty to ensure their guests’ safety and prevent harm to their daughter.

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Category: Crime

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