Increase in defilement cases 'deeply disturbing,' judge says

The Grand Court should take judicial notice of the “deeply disturbing fact that the offense of defilement of girls under 16 years of age is becoming increasingly prevalent,” Justice Charles Quin said last week after hearing details of yet another case involving a young girl and an older man.

Shankino William Ebanks was 28 and the girl was 15 when they had sexual intercourse.

The judge said he considered five years to be the starting point, but he had to consider aggravating and mitigating circumstances. He found four years to be appropriate. Ebanks pleaded guilty, but only did so on the day his trial would have started. The discount for his plea was 10 percent instead of the one-third he would have received if he had pleaded guilty at the first reasonable opportunity. The 48 months was therefore reduced to 43 months, or three years, seven months, instead of two years, eight months.

Defense attorney John Furniss pointed out that the girl had told Ebanks she was 16 after they met through mutual acquaintances.

A social inquiry report and victim impact statement added details. About a week after their first intimacy, Ebanks found out the girl’s true age and confronted her, asking her if she knew he would get into trouble. The girl told him he shouldn’t worry because she was not going to let him get into trouble.

The report added that Ebanks still seemed to believe that his actions were not improper or even caused by him. He justified his actions by blaming the morals of his partners.

Justice Quin said the law exists to protect young girls. He quoted a social worker who pointed out that the offenses against the girl occurred when she would have been experiencing emotional, physical and psychological changes.

The judge said a signal must be sent out: “Behavior like this is unacceptable and will always be and must be punished by a custodial sentence.”

Crown counsel Kenneth Ferguson represented the prosecution.