Bush’s KC arrives in time to challenge rape allegation

| 09/07/2024
Jerome Lynch KC

(CNS): Jerome Lynch KC was sworn in at the Cayman bar Monday in time for him to cross-examine the woman who has accused his client, McKeeva Bush MP, of raping her, an accusation that he has denied. Bush is being prosecuted by Eloise Marshall KC but he was facing a legal inequity without his own leading counsel. However, the arrival of Lynch, an experienced criminal defence lawyer, over the weekend put the trial back on an even footing. He was present when the video of the interview the woman gave to police was played to the jury ahead of her coming into the court.

During the interview, which lasted more than two hours, the woman was very emotional, breaking down and crying many times. She struggled to recall much of what had happened before and after the alleged incident. She was unable to say with any certainty which year it took place, and although the crown has said it was in 2000, the woman told the police it could have been 1999. She was also unable to say where it was along the West Bay Road that Bush had raped her in a mangrove clearing, as she has claimed.

She told police she had gone to the Sea Inn Bar in George Town to collect her mother, who did not drive and had been drinking. She could not remember the time of day, only that it was in the evening. She did not recall who she had left her two young children with at the time, or even for certain where they were living or how old they all were. Though she believed she had not yet had her third child at the time, she was not sure.

She said that when she arrived at the bar, several members of the PPM, including Kurt Tibbetts and McKeeva Bush, were present. They were celebrating something related to the early days of Alden Mclaughlin’s political career, but she could not recall exactly what. She said that at some point, her mother had asked her to take Bush home in his car, which she said was a white or cream-coloured Ford Expedition.

She recalled that he was loud and had obviously been drinking, but he was not falling down drunk, and she agreed to do as her mother asked. Bush’s car was in the parking lot close to the bar. When they left, he got into the front passenger seat and she got into the driver’s side. Although she did not know where Bush lived, he told her where to go. She said they spoke in the car, but she could not remember any of the conversation.

As she recalled how he had asked her to pull off the road into a dark side road and began to describe what had happened, she became extremely emotional. Throughout the video interview, she struggled to remember many details but spoke about a memory of how big he was and how during the rape, she was afraid he was going to squash her.

She said that she told Bush at least once that she didn’t “want to do this” but could not remember if she had said it more than once. She spoke about being confused and frightened, and she had just let him do it to her. As she told her story to the police, she broke down many, many times, especially when she was speaking about the details of the alleged sexual assault.

When the woman came to court in person on Monday afternoon, she was asked a few brief questions by Marshall before she was cross-examined by Lynch. But she struggled to answer and said she could not recall when during the assault she had told Bush: “I don’t want to do this.”

During cross-examination, she continued to struggle with her memory and Lynch’s questions, telling him on several occasions that she did not understand the questions and that she was being confused.

The crown presented the case with no contemporaneous witnesses and said that she told no one about her ordeal until 2021 when she began to tell family and friends. However, when she was on the stand, the woman claimed that she had, in fact, told people before then, but she could not say when.

Lynch asked her about those present at the bar and questioned how it was that Bush, who was a political rival of McLaughlin, would have been drinking in a George Town bar with him and other members of the PPM. While the woman had struggled to recall the exact date, the crown has said it was 2000, which was before the political coup of 2001 that toppled Tibbetts as leader of government business and replaced him with Bush. In 2000, Bush was serving in the same government as Tibbetts.

But the woman said that she was not involved in politics in the way her mother was, and so she was not aware which of the politicians were rivals at the time. She also struggled to recall what had happened to her mother that night, even though she had told the police she had gone to the bar to pick her up and take her home. She said her mother must have been taken home by someone else, but she did not remember talking to her after the fact about how she got home.

When she did eventually tell her mother about the sexual assault in 2021, her mother had accused her of lying, she said. Lynch suggested that she had made the whole thing up. When he read from her statement about driving down the West Bay Road and pulling over down a dark road, he said, “It’s not true, is it, any of that?” to which she replied, “It’s absolutely true.”

The case continues.

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