PHILIPSBURG–The Court of Appeals on Thursday heard the case of a 49-year-old man from the Dominican Republic who was sentenced by the Court of First Instance to eighteen months, six of which were suspended, on three years’ probation, for having been in a sexual relationship with a minor girl.
The lower Court also ordered a contact ban which expired after the girl reached the age of consent, 16, on September 8.
In sentencing, the Court did not follow the Prosecutor’s recommendation for the defendant’s immediate detention. On hearing the conviction, the defendant’s lawyer immediately filed for appeal.
The man told the Court of Appeals on Thursday that he believed he did not deserve punishment. The Prosecutor had called for a prison sentence of three years, one of which was to be suspended, on three years’ probation, with Parole Board guidance.
The defendant did not deny that he had been in a relationship with the girl from March 2015, when she was 13 years old. He said the girl had told him she was 17, going to be 18, and he had believed her. He also said the sexual intercourse had been consensual.
The Court of Guardianship filed the case after it emerged that the girl, who was on drugs and alcohol, had a relationship with an older man.
He also made the girl pregnant. He informed the Court that he had wanted to continue his relationship with the girl and had taken care of the young mother and her child.
He told the Appeals Court that they were no longer in a relationship, but that he was still looking after their 11-month-old baby during the day. He said he had adhered to and had “respected” the contact ban.
In considering the case proven, the Solicitor General called for a prison sentence of 24 months, six of which were suspended, on three years’ probation, with Parole Board guidance.
In attorney-at-law Geert Hatzmann’s opinion, the Prosecutor’s Office was wide of the mark in this case. He repeated his initial pleadings to declare the Prosecutor’s Office case against his client inadmissible, as the man has had a good influence on the underage girl, and had provided her with a stable situation.
The lawyer said his client had helped the girl in getting rid of her addiction to alcohol and drugs. “It is not in the interest of the mother and her child to send the father to jail. That is not necessary,” said Hatzmann.
He said the Court could punish his client for being a sex offender, “but he is taking his responsibility,” Hatzmann stated on his client’s behalf.
“My client does not go for young girls, and is not a paedophile. It was a coincidence,” the lawyer said.
The Court will give its decision January 4.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/71892-older-man-appeals-sentence-for-sex-with-underage-girl