Gov’t to investigate sex assault

The government will conduct an internal investigation into the indecent assault of a female fire officer that led to the jailing of a male fireman.

Donovan Ebanks, chief officer of the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs under whose remit the Fire Services Department falls, said that a decision would be made within two weeks on who would carry out the internal investigation.

Cayman Brac fireman Dorian Hunter was jailed for 18 months after being found guilty in Grand Court of four counts of indecent assault of a female colleague between November and December 2006.

When sentencing the 26-year-old fireman on 2 February, Grand Court Justice Charles Quin said other officers within the Fire Services Department also subjected the woman to humiliating and degrading treatment at the Brac station, which was described during the trial as a ‘very unpleasant place for women to work’.

Mr. Ebanks said on Wednesday: ‘We are currently deciding whether we can have someone else, someone independent, do [the internal investigation] for us … I expect to be able to make that determination within the next seven to 14 days.

‘It is important in light of the allegations made and put in the public domain, that we bring as much objectivity as possible to the course of the investigation,’ he said.

Prior to police beginning an investigation into the victim’s claims, Fire Services was in the process of carrying out an internal inquiry into her complaints.

Mr. Ebanks said: ‘There was an investigation when the allegations were first made. When police began their investigation, the internal investigation was obviously suspended. The police investigation took precedence.

‘Now that has been concluded and the result known, we are in the process of re-activating the internal investigation to look at a number of other peripheral issues.’

He added the investigation would also look at the ‘allegations made in court’.

The court was told that Hunter pinned the victim to the ground during a roadside sexual assault, had forced her to give him oral sex in the station’s bathroom, fondled her breasts in the station’s control room, and kissed her on the neck during a training drill.

In a victim impact statement read out in court, the female fire officer, who has since quit her job, said: ‘The other officers at the fire station treated me as an outcast; they isolated me from a lot of interaction with them. The fire officers had no respect for me and they did not hide their feelings.’

Chief Fire Officer Dennom Bodden said the timing of the internal investigation would depend on whether Hunter lodged an appeal in court.

‘If there is no appeal, we would have to look and see exactly what allegations were made and to see what went wrong,’ he said.

Hunter has two weeks from the date of his sentencing to appeal. Today [Monday] is the appeal deadline.

Mr. Bodden said procedures were already in place within the department to handle complaints of inappropriate behaviour.

The case has raised concerns over the leadership within the Fire Services and the handling of internal complaints within the department.