Cayman’s law makes it an offence to have carnal knowledge of a girl under 16. But Defence Attorney Nicholas Dixey questioned whether legislators had in mind teenagers growing up and experimenting.
Mr. Dixey was speaking in Summary Court recently on behalf of a defendant who was 17 when the offence occurred. The girl was 13.
The attorney suggested that legislation was meant to deal with situations in which older men, perhaps in a position of trust, take advantage of girls between the ages of 12 and 16.
The case in court involved two teenagers in an intimate encounter, he said.
After hearing the facts and mitigation, Magistrate Grace Donalds conditionally discharged the defendant and said no conviction would be recorded against him.
The original charge was defilement, but it was changed to attempted defilement. Both of these charges can be dealt with only in the Grand Court.
Senior Crown Counsel Andre Mon Desir asked that the charge be changed to indecent assault, which can be dealt with in Summary Court.
After the defendant pleaded guilty, Mr. Mon Desir explained how the charge came about.
He said the girl’s mother became concerned that the girl was spending an inordinate amount of time on the telephone. The girl was a quiet child who did not like to talk to her mother about anything.
When confronted, the girl said she had been communicating with male friends. The mother asked if they had been sexually active and the girl denied it. The mother then confronted one of the boys and he denied it.
Subsequently the mother took the girl to a doctor to be medically examined. According to the physical evidence, the girl was still a virgin.
However, the mother noticed that the girl continued to talk on the phone. She set up a recording device and realised that her daughter was telling other girls that she did have sex with at least one of the boys known to the mother.
A report was made to police and the defendant was arrested and interviewed.
Police asked if he ever had sexual intercourse with the girl and he answered, ‘We tried.’
He said the girl had come to his house and told him she wanted to come in. They went into his bedroom, where she removed articles of clothing. There was intimate contact, but the act was not completed because the boy stopped.
He said it was the only time he had been with the girl this way. The incident occurred several weeks before the girl was examined by a doctor.
Mr. Dixey said it was very much in the boy’s favour that he did stop. If he had been a different kind of person, he could have taken advantage of the situation; he could have hurt her, but he didn’t.
By pleading guilty, the defendant had saved the girl from being questioned in court, Mr. Dixey said.
He described the girl as troubled and said it was clear that she had initiated the venture. It was also clear that was not the first encounter the girl had that day.
A conviction for indecent assault carried a great deal of stigma, Mr. Dixey said. It would be the last thing a young man needs as he starts making his way in the adult world.
What had happened to him already had been a punishment to the defendant, Mr. Dixey said. For all of these reasons, he asked the court to consider whether the defendant’s conduct merited a conviction for indecent assault.
Conviction for defilement of a girl between the ages of 12 and 16 carries a possible sentence of 12 years. For attempted defilement, the maximum is 10 years.
Indecent assault on a female is punishable in the Grand Court by a sentence up to 10 years. In Summary Court, the maximum is four years.