Cayman track coach Ato Modibo Stephens, who was extradited from Florida, appeared in Summary Court on Tuesday, when charges against him were transferred to the Grand Court.
Stephens, 37, faces two charges of indecent assault on a female, one charge of gross indecency and one charge of using an ICT network to abuse/annoy/harass. The offenses are alleged to have occurred in 2015.
Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryll Richards said the defendant was extradited from the U.S. and transferred from Florida to Cayman on Monday night. She told Magistrate Grace Donalds that the extradition request had been made as a result of Stephens’s flight from the Cayman Islands in February 2016, after he became aware that a report had been made against him.
She advised that the charges are Category B, meaning that they could be tried in either Summary Court or Grand Court, but the Crown had determined that they should be dealt with in Grand Court.
Defense attorney Lloyd Samson confirmed that he had received a bundle of papers pertaining to the case. He said the matter would be contested.
After application for bail was refused, Mr. Samson suggested holding the preliminary inquiry that day so that the charges could be heard in Grand Court as quickly as possible.
The magistrate committed the charges and directed Stephens to appear in Grand Court on Friday, Feb. 24.
Ms. Richards explained that she objected to bail because Stephens had left the island on a one-way ticket and he did not return, although he had a wife and child here.
Cayman authorities made a provisional request for his extradition in June, Ms. Richards said. Stephens was arrested and a bundle of documents was sent to U.S. authorities. The extradition was contested, but a U.S. judge ruled that the circumstances were sufficient to grant the extradition request.
Ms. Richards said Stephens is a citizen of the United States and Trinidad and Tobago. There was some difficulty regarding his passport, and in order to facilitate his entry into Cayman a travel pass had to be obtained.
Given Stephens’s conduct and history, he should be remanded in custody and given an early trial date, the prosecutor concluded.
Mr. Samson argued for bail, pointing out that Stephens had a fixed local address. Once this incident came to light and was communicated to Stephens’s wife, he was excluded from the matrimonial home. Being estranged from his wife, Stephens took the position that he would reside in Florida at a property he owns, the attorney explained.
It could not be said that Stephens had tried to evade arrest, since he went willingly with officers when they approached him.
Mr. Samson said the extradition had not been contested, so much as it was that a certain technical point was being taken by counsel on the question of reciprocity – whether a charge in Cayman had an equivalent in the U.S.
The defendant’s passport can be produced by his wife, since she has access to the apartment in Florida, Mr. Samson stated in responding to another objection.
He suggested that conditions could be imposed to ensure that there would be no contact with the complainant in the matter or members of her family.
After considering the application, the magistrate said it was her decision that bail would be withheld.
She told the defendant she would order a warrant for his production from custody on Friday.