Radio host dodges sanction in assault case

| 22/05/2015 | 68 Comments
Cayman News Service

Austin Harris

(CNS): Austin Harris, the host of local radio station Rooster’s breakfast show “Crosstalk”, walked away from court not only without any sanction but no conviction either, Thursday, despite admitting to assaulting his former girlfriend. Harris pleaded guilty but said he could not remember anything as he said he was so drunk. The talk show personality had previously denied charges of common assault and damage to property and was due to stand trial yesterday but instead came clean.Witnesses had seen Harris (44) grab the woman by the throat. The intervention of television weatherman Kevin Watler had prevented him from doing further damage to his girlfriend but resulted in a scuffle where property, including a window, was damaged. The incident happened over one year ago at the leaving party being held for his victim in Governor’s Harbour.

Harris, who told the court he had given up alcohol and sought counseling for anger management since the incident, claimed he was so drunk that he could not remember anything. He told the court that he realized that this was not a reasonable excuse or defense for his behavior but it was the “only defense” he had. Harris said he “accepted full responsibility”, as he read a prepared statement.

“Many people have felt my silence implies a lack of remorse. Nothing could be further from the truth. I lie awake at night thinking about the pain, suffering and embarrassment I have caused so many people,” Harris told the court. “It has been 14 months since my lips last touched alcohol.”

The magistrate hearing the case, Angelyn Hernandez, was clearly convinced. Given his previous good character and the voluntary steps he had taken too address the issues, he deserved a chance, she said, and let him go without any sanction.

“I admonish you and discharge you with no conviction recorded,” she said. “You are a public figure and you have suffered much already in the court of public opinion and, no doubt, after today that will continue.”

The victim of the domestic assault gave a statement to the police but she had since indicated she did not want to pursue charges against her ex-lover as he had addressed his drunken aggression. But the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions proceeded with the case because there were other witnesses at the party that saw the assault.

Watler told the court that Harris had not apologized to him since the incident but Harris’ lawyer said that he had been prevented from contacting witnesses.

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Category: Courts, Crime

Comments (68)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Poor Austin, ” having suffered much in the court of public opinion” WTF!!
    A self confessed woman beater, and let’s not pretend this is the first time, and he walks away a free man despite the crown having numerous prosecution witnesses and his only defence being that he was drunk ! What a joke! The man cares nothing for anyone or anything other than his hugely inflated ego. Large bloated fish in small pool syndrome.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    So many public apologies and thank yous from the thug ….. But no mention of his girlfriend who has apparently stood by him throughout this. Without her retraction he would be a convicted thug. I hope she has learnt her lesson and cuts him loose.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Is it true that when you change your plea at the last minute and effectively suddenly remember that you remember beating your girlfriend, that the courts will deem there to have been no crime committed. Wow!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Austin and Joey should do a late night show, with Austin wasted and Joey high as a kite. A show from jail.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    Wow………. I can’t wait to see what they are going to do with that Kenneth Bryan guy. He is in court for helping a woman from getting abused and this Harris dude goes free for abusing one. Only in the cayman islands. I really need to go back to Texas…..

  6. Anonymous says:

    Well I’m definitely going to challenge my DUI convictions.

    • Anonymous says:

      There is now an opportunity for the DPP to follow up, justify the prosecution and charge this ape with drunk and disorderly conduct. What could his defense be as he has already admitted guilt under oath. Come on DPP, show us that you have the public safety as a concern.

  7. George Nowak says:

    Wow… I am jealous…. Austin is getting more negative comments – than that silly little cartoon / time for me to start drawing…..

    • Anonymous says:

      Barefoot, maybe you should be whacking your missus around if you want the publicity, but I can’t guarantee the same immunity from the law. Then again you are a public figure so go ahead.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Well known Caymanian, no conviction. Every one else must take responsibility for their actions. We get it. Its part of what makes Cayman Islands unique.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I could not find a single positive comment.
    It is clear what the people think.

  10. Anonymous says:

    You must pardon the poor magistrate who found herself between a block and a bad place. If she locks Austin up or he loses his job, it’s “Hello Eelio, welcome back to the show…..”. And NOBODY wants that!!

  11. Driftwood says:

    Wow, I am gonna get me some karate and heavy drinking lessons, guaranteed discharge with every fight! I can accept the remorse, most of us who have got drunk at some point have regretted doing something as a result, however as many here write, the message is so wrong. You can’t hit women. Period.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Is this going to be one of the questions on the PR test?

  13. Anonymous says:

    Well, Mr Linford Pierson acted as a character reference for him so I can’t see what you all are complaining about. Mr Pierson would not lend his name in support of anyone who inflicted physical violence on a woman.

    • Driftwood says:

      Errr, he did just that 7.34. The man admitted it, several people witnessed it. Never mind, you are forgiven, but suggest you stop drinking and reading.

    • Anonymous says:

      At times like this I really miss the LOL button.

    • Anonymous says:

      Shots fired! Of course, you have to be of a certain vintage to get the underlying irony. CNS we need the LOL button asap…….

  14. Anonymous says:

    So a week ago there’s a headline ‘Cayman teens face violence and abuse’ – not really helping to stem the interrelated problem here with this judgement are we. . .

  15. Anonymous says:

    Simple solution to this. Everyone who disagrees with the judgment should boycott all companies who advertise on Rooster until they sack him.

  16. Anonymous says:

    So if you are drunk, do bodily harm to someone and can’t recall, you can walk free. What a F@$%ED up jurisdiction we live in.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Terrible decision by this novice magistrate. If Austin had been an expat they would have locked him up.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I have just beaten my wife senseless apparently. I cant remember because I was drunk. So apparently I would not be convicted of this crime. Great message!

    • Anonymous says:

      And so if women start getting drunk and assaulting, even murdering their abusive men, but can’t recall the memory will they get to walk?

      probably not, that would mean the law isn’t biased which it clearly is… but Magistrate should not be proud of this during her early time as a Magistrate (isn’t she still on probation?), I would suggest she shadows someone else a bit longer and or be asked to step down

    • Anonymous says:

      I have a feeling that this recent rush of violence towards women may be contributable to stuff that’s been washing up on the beaches and it aint driftwood.

  19. Anonymous says:

    A disgrace. Drunken domestic abuse is as bad as sober domestic abuse. This discharge sends the message that Cayman does not care about women being abused by neanderthal men.

  20. Anonymous says:

    “I was plastered” is hardly a credible excuse for one’s actions, surely?

  21. Anonymous says:

    I would have loved to have known I could use this as an excuse. I too have not touched alcohol since my arrest over a years and a half ago for DUI. My sentence was a whole lot more than this. I would not complain if I didn’t feel that this justice system is terribly biased.

  22. Anonymous says:

    The wrong message was sent in this case. Mr. Harris deserved jail time as battery upon women is a serious crime and the facts of the case were not in dispute. Several months where weekends were spent in Northward would have been the correct sentence.

  23. Anonymous says:

    The voting buttons have a glitch! Every vote of agreement is totaling in the thumbs down section.

    I am certainly not in agreement with the outcome. A stronger message needs to be sent to anyone who in anyway abuses someone else regardless of any excuses they come up with. Men will now use this defense and they wont even get community service or probation. This will happen again…it might not make the news but it will.

    Love Angelyn but this is a poor decision.

    He’s smart…he used an angle and walked.

    • Anonymous says:

      My favorite from Angelyn ‘ you are a public figure you have suffered much already”!!! So now it is acceptable if you want to beat your wife/girlfriend, get drunk as a skunk and say you can’t remember. How dare she give him off so lightly!!! This is horrific and an injustice to women that have been abused!

  24. Anonymous says:

    So not even a blood test to check if he was telling the truth about not drinking, just accept the word of admitted woman beater.

    Great message from the courts that seem in favour of domestic violence, awesome work

  25. A. Victim says:

    Scumbag. Should have been locked up and had the key thrown away.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Anywhere else and he would have been terminated in disgrace months ago. Cayman needs to grow up when it comes to gender and domestic violence. This is entirely wrong message to send to the beligerant men of Cayman.

  27. disgusted says:

    Truly disgusted with the Caymanian judicial system. First Mac, now this. This makes me not want to stay. Women: you’re on notice–if your man beats you, there will be no consequences. All he has to do is say sorry and pretend he doesn’t remember. Disgusting!

  28. Anonymous says:

    Why when you click on the Up button does the Down button get another ‘positive’? Something wrong here and this is a very important topic

    • Anonymous says:

      I think this shows the total number of votes. If 10 hit the green button and 2 hit the red this would equate to a 8. If 10 hit the red and two hit the green it should show a -8 figure.

    • Cass says:

      YES! This too happened to me and I was not pleased. These kind of “glitches” are not a good thing. Misleading to say the least.

    • Just Sayin' says:

      Clear your cache and vote as many times as you want, like the rest of us.

  29. Anonymous says:

    He had pleaded not guilty and only changed his plea to guilty at the last minute at the start of the trial. His original plea would indicate he did have a recollection of what happened as otherwise how could he contend he was not guilty?.

    • Anonymous says:

      Surely, the police and legal department spent many hours to present this case because he pleaded not guilty. If he got away because he pleaded guilty at the last minute, I believe he should be made to pay the costs of presenting the case!!!

  30. Anonymous says:

    He ought to stop being critical about other people and think of himself first before commenting.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Wrong message to victims of domestic violence and an egregious error in judgment from the learned lady magistrate! What about probation and taking anger management and AA classes etc? DV is a seriously problem and the DPP is to be commended for forcing the case in spite of the victim’s withdrawal which happens in most instances.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Correct decision in this case.

  33. Anonymous says:

    Being allowed to pull the, “I was too trashed to control my actions,” excuse sends out the wrong message to everyone.

    If he’d tried it with a Judge in the USA or magistrates in the UK they’d have jailed him.

    He wasn’t some teenager exploring alcohol for the first time, he’s been around plenty long enough to manage his drinking and understand the effects of it. This is a disgrace.

  34. Pogo says:

    A suspended sentence or a conviction with no time served would a least put a marker down so that if the behaviour is repeated the consequences would be severe. All this does is say that if you are a public figure and express remorse – not publicly incidentally but only when in court – you can get away with actions like this.

    Harris pled not guilty until the last minute, and despite being in a fantastic position as a radio personality to tell the public that what he had done was simply wrong and should not be emulated, and to throw his weight in behind organisations that support women who are the victims of violence – instead kept silent and asserted his innocence until the last possible moment. Any concession for a very late guilty plea would normally be severely reduced by the lack of prior remorse and the late timing of the concession, which incurred the prosecution the time and effort of going to trial, but he skates because he is a public figure! You cannot make this stuff up.

    The law is there to punish and deter – its not meant to rely on public opinion as an alternative punishment or sanction. If anything the fact that he is a public figure makes it more important that the court demonstrates that no one is above the law and sends a clear message on what is acceptable in a civilized society – the magistrate has done the exact opposite.

  35. Anonymous says:

    Community Service would have been appropriate??!

  36. CleverBoy345 says:

    Pathetic.

  37. Anonymous says:

    All sounds good to me. Accepting responsibility, changed man, great.

    But why add that you don’t remember anything?

  38. Anonymous says:

    This sends a great message about how our society views violence against women. Not even a conviction. This is a total disgrace and the DPP should appeal.

  39. Just Sayin' says:

    An admitted woman beater is no better than a convicted woman beater.

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