Public outrage over lenient sentencing for sex offender
By TDN Wire Staff
April 29, 2015 11:06 A.M
Clife Charles sentenced to 8 years for sexual assault
Roseau, Dominica (TDN)
Residents of Dominica have been voicing their outrage over a court’s ruling to sentence a 36-year-old man to eight years in prison for having sex with two girls ages six and seven years old.
High Court Judge Errol Thomas sentenced Clife Elijah Charles of Wesley to four years for each of the offenses after he pleaded guilty. Each count carried a maximum sentence of 25 years behind bars. Charles has also been charged in a third, similar incident.
Callers to local talk radio programs voiced their concern over what many considered to be a slap on the wrist for the offender. Some said they felt betrayed by the courts and that it created a precedent for persons to take matters in their own hands.
Others voiced disbelief that the judge would sentence Charles to many years way below the maximum allowed, and have called for amendments to the legislation to impose a minimum sentence.
Judge Thomas said that he was outraged and dismayed at the ‘perplexng’ behaviour of Charles. According to the facts before the court, Charles had sex with the two minors on the same day and later offered them a dollar to buy corn curls.
However, Thomas justified the lenient sentence by stating that Charles was a ‘first time offender’ and that he did not waste the courts time by pleading guilty.
The Judge also appeared to have been swayed by the pleadings of defense counsel Dawn Harewood who told the court that her client was influenced by ‘spirits’ and that he had spared the children the agony of a public trial by pleading guilty.
Social workers in Dominica have been recording a steep rise in sexual offenses against minors and continue to lament the fact that most of these go unpunished.