The lawyer for Cayman Islands Speaker of the House McKeeva Bush filed a written “not guilty” plea Wednesday to an allegation of battery against Mr. Bush, according to Broward County, Florida court records.
“The defendant hereby enters a plea of not guilty, requests a trial by jury, hereby waives formal arraignment and requests 15 days for the filing of appropriate defensive motions,” the plea record states.
Mr. Bush, 62, was arrested Monday night at a casino in Coconut [*] Creek, Florida, just north of Fort Lauderdale.
According to a statement from the Seminole Police Department, surveillance video at the Coconut [*] Creek casino showed “Mr. Bush allegedly wrapped his arm around [a female casino employee’s] lower back and forcefully pulled the victim towards his direction. According to the arresting officer, the victim alleged [Mr. Bush] grabbed her buttocks while pulling her with his right arm.”
Seminole Police declined to release the video.
The Florida State Attorney’s Office in Broward County said Thursday that no court date had been set and that prosecutors must still decide whether to move forward with formal charges.
“The police will present their case, we’ll look at all of the facts and we’ll determine, within 21 days, whether or not to file the charge,” said Kristi Grimm, a media assistant with the prosecutor’s office.
Mr. Bush’s attorney, Keith Seltzer, said the allegations against Mr. Bush were made by “one person” and that his client had not been formally charged under Florida state law.
In Florida, Mr. Bush faces misdemeanor battery, which is defined under the state’s criminal code: “The offense of battery occurs when a person, 1) Actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other; or, 2) Intentionally causes bodily harm to another person.” Upon conviction, the charge carries a maximum one-year jail sentence or a US$1,000 fine.
The Cayman Islands coalition government, of which Mr. Bush is a part as both a member of the Legislative Assembly and the House Speaker, has not commented.
Premier Alden McLaughlin did not respond to messages seeking comment. Mr. McLaughlin’s press secretary, Tammie Chisholm, said the government would have “no comment” about the arrest.
At least one member of the opposition benches raised the possibility of calling an ethics committee hearing of the House in response to the arrest, but opposition members had not commented as a group by press time.
“I think that’s a question for the premier and his government,” Deputy Opposition Leader Alva Suckoo said Thursday.
[*] Editor’s note: Corrects location of the casino where Mr. Bush’s arrest occurred.