Following community outrage over a man’s two year sentence for indecently assaulting a young boy, a former talk-show host and local businesswoman is vowing to open a privately run sex-offenders registry to name and shame child-sex predators.
Frustrated with a lack of government action to protect child-sex victims, Sandra Catron said she will take the law into her own hands and open a website – to be hosted overseas if necessary – that will post names and photos of convicted child-sex offenders.
‘I would love for the Government to do this. The reason why I am doing this is that the Government has shown total disregard for this topic,’ she said. ‘They have just given excuses.’
Her plan comes after a Caymanian Compass report of a 20-year-old man’s two-year prison sentence for indecently assaulting a five-year-old boy sparked public outrage than has clogged talk radio and dominated letters to the editor in local newspapers (Compass 30 September).
The first goal of the site will be to arm the community with information about child-sex predators so parents can be informed and protect their children, Ms Catron explained.
‘We also want to talk about prevention so we can prevent this from occurring. A large portion of the information will be educational material so people can learn how to talk to their kids about these topics,’ she said.
Ms Catron brushed off concerns that naming child-sex offenders will in some cases lead to the identification of victims.
‘At the end of the day, Cayman is so small that if I want to know who the perpetrator is, it takes me two phone calls and I know,’ Ms Catron said.
‘I think the bigger argument is protecting other children to make sure they do not become victims.’
It’s not the first time a sex-offenders registry has been proposed for the Cayman Islands.
The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service’s Family Support Unit submitted plans for an internal sex-offenders register to the Legal Services Department more than two years ago.
Draft legislation is yet to publicly emerge, but the proposal envisaged making sex-offenders’ details available to law enforcement officials and allowing employers to enquire whether the names of potential employees appeared on the register.
In June 2007 the Compass reported on another government plan to introduce amendments to the Children Law to legally oblige people that work with children to report suspected cases of child abuse, including sexual abuse (Compass 24 June, 2007).
Health Minister Anthony Eden confirmed Wednesday those amendments are now being finalised, but he did not say when they will come before the Legislative Assembly (see sidebar story).
Ms Catron said her registry will list convicted sex-offenders by name and, when possible, be accompanied by a photo. It will also have details of the particular offence they have been convicted for, she said.
The website will rely on a compilation of media reports, additional research and a network of volunteers that will monitor court lists and sit in on cases.
Ms Catron said she will base the website overseas and is prepared to travel off-island to upload to the site in order to avoid certain legal restrictions under the Information and Communication Technology Authority Law.
‘I will make sure it is not a ‘.ky’ domain; I will make sure the ICTA and local legislators have no control over this website at all,’ she said
She is unsure whether basing the website abroad will put her outside of local restrictions on publically identifying victims and young persons involved in legal proceedings.
Section 12(1) of the Youth Justice Law gives courts power to restrict the publication of details of young people involved in legal proceedings while section 31(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code further prohibits publications and broadcasts relating to rape proceedings that could lead to the identification of victims.
‘I think we will have to test the waters and see what happens,’ Ms Catron said.