Legal changes to help prosecute grooming

| 20/08/2018 | 25 Comments
Cayman News Service

Police Commissioner Derek Byrne and Inspector Kevin Ashworth

(CNS): Amendments to the Penal Code that government hopes to steer through the Legislative Assembly at next month’s meeting on Cayman Brac have been welcomed by the police, as they say it will help them and prosecutors convict sexual predators and abusers who groom young victims. The Penal Code is being amended to include eight new offences regarding sexual contact with children, such as sexual communication, forcing kids to watch pornography or procuring a child for sexual activity, among others. The legislation also makes sexual harm orders retrospective and modernises the language about vulnerable victims of sexual abuse.

The eight new offences are largely related to the grooming of children by offenders and they cover the stages that sexual predators often go through to gain access to children.

The amendments will make it an offence to communicate with a child where the intention is to encourage them to send sexually related communication back, such as soliciting pictures of a child in sexual poses. It criminalises arranging to meet and meeting children following sexual communication, where the meeting is sexual in nature.

It also creates an offence for people who lure a child for sexual activity on behalf of someone else. Making children watch sexual activity, engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child and inviting a child to participate in sexual activity are all now defined offences.

Abuse of a position of trust, especially where people are working with children, will also see people prosecuted where they breach that trust through sexual communication or activity with any child they are supervising or taking care of.

The legislation states that sentences for the new offences range from four to twelve years, with the offence of abuse of position of trust carrying a mandatory minimum sentence of four years where the offender pleads guilty or six years upon conviction.

Inspector Kevin Ashworth, Manager of the RCIPS Family Support Unit, has welcomed the changes, saying they go to the heart of grooming.

“The proposed amendments to the Penal Code are a very positive step forward in addressing and targeting child safeguarding issues by highlighting some of the specific offences which are more commonly referred to as grooming,” said Ashworth, who has already worked on a number of these types of cases.

“Primarily as a child safeguarding entity, the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) and each of its parent organisations very much welcome the proposals, which provide additional legal resources for the investigators to be more pro-active in stemming the frequency of abuse, especially child sexual abuse, within the Cayman Islands.”

He explained that officers will be able to pick up on potential sexual abusers and predators and potentially intervene before they actually hurt any children.

“Investigators will be able to analyse patterns of suspicious behaviour that would otherwise have been hard to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, and legislative developments such as this enhance the possibilities of bringing offenders to justice prior to more serious offending occurring,” Ashworth told CNS. “This not only addresses the needs of victims and goes some way to alleviating public outcry but also provides police and crown prosecutors with specified offences to combat such abhorrent behaviour.”

The retrospective application of sexual harm prevention orders is also expected to help prosecutors keep known predators, after they are released from jail, away from existing and potential new victims. Up until now, very few orders have been implemented because in several recent successful convictions the offences and charges occurred before the law was passed.

With this amendment, however, these people will have orders imposed upon their release, including Errington Webster, the former political candidate and community leader who was convicted last year on indecent assault charges relating to a teenage girl. He was sentenced to six years in jail, but the crown will now be able to place an order restricting his access to young people after he is released.

His case also highlights the need for the changes in the legislation that define grooming. Webster had followed a common pattern of sexual predators as he groomed his young victim, but it was difficult for the police to charge him for that behaviour.

In several cases prosecuted recently where it has been difficult to prove indecent assault or gross indecency, offenders were charged under legislation relating to the misuse of a communication network, which falls far short of reflecting the true criminality of the offenders.

In the case of Trinidadian track star Ato Stephens, who appeared to show grooming behaviour when he was accused of indecent assault against one of his charges, he was given an 18-month sentence based on the abuse of ICT laws when he was found not guilty of the sexual offences. If he had been charged and convicted under this legislation, as a coach of the victim he would have faced a minimum of six years in jail.

See the amendment to the Penal Code in the CNS Library

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Category: Crime, Crime Prevention

Comments (25)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    What about those men beaters? What are we going yo do to them

  2. Anonymous says:

    Disgusted how under the influence of church leaders and male politicians, these eight offences were not on the list before.
    Yes it is good news the law being amended, but why did it take so many abused children before something to happen?
    Church and politics is the answer.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Start by dealing with some of those PE teachers that wear those little tight shorts.
    Right after the school teachers has explained how to have a baby and the proper use of condoms, then the young girls are faced with a grown bunkey man in tight shorts and talking about hugging children. That is the conclusion of grooming a child.

    Dear PE teachers.
    Do not Hug my Girl or Boy child. It’s not necessary. Sports is supposed to teach them physical skills and get them active. But not in a perverse way.
    And may I remind, there is no need to contact my child after school hours directly for anything to do with sports.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Our Teachers usually can identify children that are being used , abused and what have you. Unfortunately if they speak we know the end results. This should not be, they should be encouraged to speak out.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thats exactly right. And if the Head of a Department is a women who hired a pedo, she is given a pass. If the person under that same Department Head suspects something, his contract is not renewed. What a bunch of sick puppies all working together to keep their jobs.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Excellent news…thank you PPM AG DPP and civil service. World Class.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Great. But 1 more paragraph could have extended this to those criminals who use minors for drug sales etc.

    • Anonymous says:

      Let’s get some MLAs to support this idea, please!
      Even if the law is passed it can be amended to include all Criminal Groomers – for drug and property crimes, as well as groomed into alcohol&drug use/addiction. there are kids who drink 345 beers for breakfast on the way to school.
      No child should be groomed or bullied into a life of dysfunction, regardless if it is done in their homes, schools, on the streets, or in institutions.
      Needless to say, this is a reality here!
      Otherwise, this dysfunction will become the new Norm for our little islands, and treatment will overtake detection and prevention as solutions.

  7. Unison says:

    As a godfearing man, I can’t help but not bellow, “God help us!”

    Our internet, tv, smart phone, game centered society is producing perverted men from an early age, men that succomb to entertaining pornographic material, and “relive” such thought images, directing them at minors.

    It should worry us that the most searched sites on the internet is not about education, keeping the law, or family – but rather the number 1 internet searched category in the world is pornography!

    So you have societies where young men are graduating from colleges and universities with degrees, but they lack self-knowledge, a spiritual core with no moral fiber in them. So you have weak minded men in positions of trust around the world! This is the reality, this is what the best universities and institutions are producing on the planet!

    Just in, breaking news, we even see men claiming to be “spiritual” leaders over communities. Real demonic incidents exposed within the Catholic Church! The Pope made an address today, his words, “we abandoned the little ones.” We failed them. The evil imaginations and carnaled desires overpowered these priests to harm little children! Where were the cardinal virtues like fortitude, self-control, justice, and prudence??? These men, so well educated by top educational institutions, yet failed to govern themselves. Claiming righteousness, yet weak minded men in positions of trust! We can easily point the finger at the Roman church, but this spiritual weakness can be found in all men in diverse positions of societies.

    We applaud the governments including our own for enacting tougher legislations against these vices. However, even an atheist can’t deny that there is an evil presence that captures the minds of vulnerable men! There is not much the law and governments can do about it. For it is spiritual matter! Intrusive thoughts, pornographic imaginings that tempts men to sexually do violence to minors. And many of these images do not originate from mere upbringing or watching internet porn. These images are uninvited, they are real, they are demonic to lure all like priests and ministers, and mock God.

    Society continues to not see spiritual solutions to this problem, so a tidal wave of sins is bound to occur despite laws of the land increasing sentences and harsh penalties.


    • Anonymous says:

      In the absence of enforcement civilized and acceptable behavior disappears. The Catholic Church (and I suspect many other churches) hid this sick behavior for years, and some parts still try to. To me it is even sadder that people still go to those churches where these “men of God” remain, in many cases, to be prosecuted.
      Even if you look at driving standards here, the previous absence of police on the roads and therefore prosecutions or arrest meant that many just did what they like, dangerous, drunken driving with no thought for others…such is the way of weak men (and women). Hopefully the tickets being issued now will result in an improvement. Sadly, everything needs to be enforced. I just hope the RCIPS has the resources to police these laws properly.

      • Unison says:

        Truly, good governance is ordained by the highest court.

        And sadly, certain individuals enforcing the law, have corrupt minds themselves. They betray our trust.

        So I strike at the heart, the root cause of mankind’s choosing to entertain such behaviors against children.


    • Anonymous says:

      The churches here do the same thing
      It isn’t some far off European/American

      and I love this idea that you think the answer is “spiritual solutions”
      When holy men are the ones who fiddle kids most, and have done so for hundreds of years

      But keep blaming “Our internet, tv, smart phone, game centered society is producing perverted men from an early age, men that succomb to entertaining pornographic material, and “relive” such thought images, directing them at minors.”
      Some of those things have only been widely used for the last 20-30 years, yet child abuse has existed forever
      You are connecting invisible points with nonexistent lines

      PLENTY of secret family child abuse and incest went on in Cayman long before smartphones and the internet

      • Cay1 says:

        But does not internet, video games, or social media contribute to the increase in crime? I think that is what Unison and others are saying. Have you review any studies on this topic? This is not an “invisible point.” We are seeing more perverts now than back then.

        • Anonymous says:

          That’s simply because society does not condone or sweep these things under the rug nearly as much as it used to. For all its negatives, social media and the internet allow us to shed a brighter light on these topics, raise awareness and give people a platform to express their outrage and share their experiences. For example: If that young girl hadn’t videotaped Mr. Webster, a lot more people would have doubted her story.

          If you think these things weren’t just as prevalent back then I would argue that they were and it is simply a matter of us being more aware.

    • Anonymous says:

      Here goes Unison again preaching about a god no one can prove exist. This isn’t a spiritual problem it’s a mental problem but, how could somehow as gullible as yourself possibly understand this?

  8. Anonymous says:

    The #metoo has gotten started and it is a good thing. In a small place you have sexual predators and namely men.
    There has been evidence of men abusing boys and evidence on tape and everything dismissed! Its who you know. Nothing happens. All cover up.
    Karma will get these men for abusing boys that have no power to cope with the shame. Good luck getting this under control. Not going to happen.
    Get cameras for sure.

    • Anonymous says:

      The vast majority of the documented and duly prosecuted abuses of children in Cayman are men going after girls

      To name a few off the top of my head:
      Ato Stevens
      Errington Webster
      Pierre Pavlov Rameau
      Devon Stewart
      And many who go unnamed in the press to protect the members of their families that they abuse

      Please stop associating (or implying some connection between) pedophilia and homosexuality as that is the only type of abuse you mention, not only is it misleading to associate the two but extremely damaging to the reputations of law abiding homosexual citizens it also furthers the unfounded stigma surrounding gay men and child abuse
      Heterosexual males make up the majority of Cayman’s population and Heterosexual men make up the majority of the pedophiles and child abusers in Cayman and around the world.

      Are there gay child abusers and pedophiles? Yes, no one denies their existence, but let us not pretend that they are the leading and only perpetrators.
      Not to mention the females who abuse young boys here and around the world, who never end up in court, who get a slap on the wrist if they do end up in court or who are treated as the victims themselves

    • Anonymous says:

      #metoo was going great until one of the main accusers turned out to be an abuser too and paid off the boy she allegedly sexually assaulted.

  9. Anonymous says:

    This is excellent news RCIPS. This should have been introduced a long time ago. There is a lot of child abuse on this island and has been for many years. Hopefully, together with this amendment, the Government will fund the MASH team and this will allow an experienced person in this field from the U.K. to lead them in the right direction.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Excellent work, I hope all those pedos in high places get kicked off the island regardless of their origins. That includes cayman offenders.

    • Anonymous says:

      Can we track the person who thumbs down this comment?

      CNS: No.

      • Anonymous says:

        Why would you want to track them? To threaten them? Understand some people just try to irritate sensitive souls like you by down thumbing down on comments. Doesn’t mean they are right, or you for that matter. Lets face it, throwing Caymanians out of Cayman regardless of their criminal activity is not an option, and in fact probably a pretty dumb thing to say. Maybe those people who thumb downed you would like to know your name and where you live? Would you like anyone to tell them that information? It works both ways, if that’s the kind of information you want. Perhaps now you understand why this is all anonymous.

  11. Word to the Wise says:

    There needs to be protection for male teachers and all men in positions of trust. Allow them to have cctv camaras to protect themselves from false allegations. Also, this can assist the courts to determine cases. Grooming is a serious offence and can damage a person’s reputation for life. That is why men of character have to be vigilant on how they conduct themselves with minors. Male police officers should always have a female officer along with them if they have to interact with young girls or women. These are simple commonsense guidelines.

    • Anonymous says:

      The burden of proof is more than a mere accusation
      Yes accusations can be damaging but at the end of the day the likelihood of being convicted on a mere accusation is slim to none

      As long as you aren’t doing anything inappropriate you have nothing to worry about

      • Anonymous says:

        That’s easy to say. Especially when we live in a small society such as Cayman. Vindictive people can make your life a living hell.

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