Two years after being charged for rape an elderly man’s accuser withdrew the allegation after a DNA test proved that he was not the father of the child who was said to be a product of the alleged crime.
And this has prompted attorney-at-law Damien Sands to issue a strong appeal for people to stop using the police and judicial system as a pawn.
The man who is now 70 years old was accused in the District ‘E’ Holetown jurisdiction of having sexual intercourse with the teenager without her consent between November 1 and 30, 2017. He was 68 and the complainant was 17.
The accused was living with the teenager’s grandfather at the time of the alleged incident, but the relative was said to be away from the home. She claimed that she had never been intimate with anyone before that incident which resulted in a pregnancy.
According to the lawyer the accused man had always maintained his innocence in the indictable matter.
Sands told Barbados TODAY based on the young lady’s statements to the police, a DNA test was critical since the claim was that his client was the father of child, a product of the alleged rape.
“On July 23, this year, we got the paternity results in relation to those two parties and the conclusion was that he was not the biological father of the child of the alleged rape. The test said the ‘probability of paternity zero percent,” Sands disclosed.
“What that means is that based on her statement . . . everything she said was a lie and I have a major problem [with that] because this is an old man that would have had to walk with a dark cloud over his head for the last two or three years with people in the community suggesting that he is a pedophile, that he is a rapist, that he interferes with little girls.
“He didn’t go to trial, just had that opportunity in court to have that piece of evidence produced and it supported his defence that he was indeed telling the truth. And the sad thing about this matter is that after the DNA test was read out in court the complainant decided to withdraw the case . . . it was basically a situation where she was caught red-handed in a lie,” he added.
“At all times he indicated that he had never had sexual intercourse with this girl, he was adamant from the beginning. In fact he even went as far to say that he was impotent at the point in time that is why he emphatically asked for the DNA test because he knew without a shadow of a doubt that the child could not be his,” the lawyer explained.
“I don’t intend to bash the police because the police have a job to do . . . and once their investigation shows that there is some evidence to support the case they have a responsibility to charge and let the court decide,” the lawyer said.
Sands was incensed that the reputation of “an impecunious man” had been destroyed as a result of “a simple lie” which has “dire severe consequences to a person’s livelihood”.
“Matters like this need to be ventilated in court to deter future persons from using the police and the judicial system as a pawn. I don’t know what her agenda was but God forbid we did not have the technology to do DNA testing. Imagine if we had gone to a trial where it would have been his word against hers or imagine if she didn’t even say that the child was his just alleged there was a rape.”
The attorney maintained it was an “unfortunate” situation since he could not say his client was acquitted, only that the complainant withdrew the matter.
“I am not mentioning the person’s name because the old man just wants to move on with his life. He does not want the attention, he does not want to have any further conflict with the young lady,” Sands stated adding that he believed that there were more matters like this in the system and issued a call for the people to stop trying cases in the public since under the Constitution “we all are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law”.
“For too long I have noticed the trend where persons are charged and the media covers it and that is the gospel. Once you are charged you are guilty. You can see the comments on social media, where people don’t even know the people but have an opinion about the person, have an opinion about the case without having actual knowledge of the evidence as it relates to the charge.
“We as a society need to dispel the misconception that because a person is charged that they are automatically guilty. We cannot stigmatise people, ostracise people based on a charge.
“This particular matter is a shining example of an innocent person who was accused of something, his reputation was destroyed in the community, on social media and the media did not cover the end result. In the future, when the media covers [such] a charge I would hope that they could do a backup story to show the public that the evidence suggests that this man was guilty or the evidence suggests this man was innocent, especially in circumstances like this when the alleged crime is as heinous and vile as rape,” Sands added. [email protected]