St. Maarten News – One could say a lot about Emanuel Y., the former basketball coach accused of raping two boys, but not that he is not consistent. Serving a sentence of 5 years for the crimes, Y. gave the Common Court of Justice a clear reason for appealing that verdict: “I feel that I am innocent.”
That is not the opinion of Solicitor-General Ton van der Schans; he asked the court to confirm the sentence of the lower court. Y.’s attorney Brenda Brooks on the other hand, found enough in the dossier to conclude that there is doubt and that her client ought to be acquitted.
When the court quizzed Y. about the charges – the rape of a 16- and a 17-year old boy in 2014 – the defendant categorically denied everything.
The charge is that Y. contacted the boys via Facebook, luring them with promises of a basketball team that would go on to training in the United States. He met them for one on one sessions in remote and dark places near Bishop Hill (it was light, the defendant said), where he kissed and touched his first victim and then went on to have sexual intercourse. “I had no sexual contacts with him,” Y. said.
The victim however had been examined in the hospital where injuries were found that are consistent with rape.
A friend of the victim was also allegedly approached on Facebook by the defendant. The victim reportedly told him: “don’t go, he is a pedo; he almost raped me.”
The victim reportedly told Y., “I’d do anything to make it to the team; I’d have sex with a man, even with you.”
The second victim, who was also approached via Facebook, was taken to a remote location behind the Vineyard building “I never did that,” Y. told the court.
This victim said that Y. had promised to get him a Dutch passport and a job at the Coast Guard. “I only told him what to do to get a passport and that he had to apply to the Coast Guard if he wanted a job there,” the defendant said.
Y. denied that he had threatened the boy to post embarrassing pictures on the internet, that he had said his brothers, who work at the police, would come after him if he did not do what Y. wanted or that he had threatened to make public that the boy was gay.
“I never said any of that,” Y. told the court. He pointed out that no pictures of the boys were found on his laptops, usb sticks or cellphone.
Are you gay?” the court asked. “No,” Y. answered.
The defendant was arrested on June 11, 2014; since then, he has been behind bars. Y. was the president of the St. Maarten Basketball Association and the manager of the L.B. Scott Sports Auditorium. He told the court he also worked as a community development officer and that he would not return to basketball upon his release.
Solicitor-General Van der Schans asked the court to acquit the defendant of using violence against the second victim, but he nevertheless asked to confirm the 5-year sentence from the Court in First Instance.
“There are reports from two young victims and they follow the same pattern. Grooming via Facebook by a basketball coach who gave false hopes to his victims and made one-on-one appointments at places outside of the regular sports facilities.
“Why make one-on-one appointments for a team sport? That gives me reason to think,” Van der Schans said. “One complaint is supported by a medical report. There is sufficient legal and convincing evidence.”
But attorney Brenda Brooks was not at all convinced. “My client maintains his innocence,” she said. “Witness statements are mostly based on rumors and gossip; they ought to stay out of the equation. It is the words of these boys against the word of my client. The media have also played a role in the conviction.”
Brooks said that Y. is staying for already more than a year in the sick bay at Pointe Blanche for security reasons. “His freedom is taken away and within that measure his freedom is limited further. A double punishment,” she said.
The attorney furthermore noted that no DNA trace evidence linked to her client had been found on the victims or on their clothing.
The injuries the first victim showed at the hospital could have a different cause, like hard feces, Brooks said.