Trial began in Grand Court on Thursday for former Cayman track coach Ato Modibo Stephens, who is accused of indecently assaulting a 14-year-old female member of his track club.
Stephens faces charges of indecent assault, gross indecency and using an ICT network to abuse, annoy or harass by sending indecent messages.
Justice Michael Wood, who is hearing the matter without a jury, as the defendant elected, ordered that there be no reporting of information that could lead to the identification of the girl, including the names of the girl’s parents, and the names of other children who would be mentioned during the course of the trial.
Evidence began with tape recordings of two interviews with the girl conducted by officers from the Family Support Unit at the beginning of the investigation.
In the tapes, the girl told police that she and Stephens had communicated via WhatsApp. She said the first time, they just had a regular conversation about her performance that day and then he asked her to send him a picture of herself with no clothes, just underwear.
She said she asked him why and he told her because he needed it to help him relax. In all, she sent him “probably 20 or more” pictures, she said on the tapes.
She said he asked for other pictures, but she never sent him any nude photos. He then started sending her messages about what he would like to do to her and what he would like her to do to him.
She said she did not respond for a while, but then he told her he needed her to play along in case he got caught by police, in case he got in trouble.
The indecent touching occurred when he would drive her home after training, after he first had dropped off other team members, she said. This happened two or three times.
Sometimes he took his pants off in the vehicle and tried to get her to touch him, but she did not, she told police.
Asked if Stephens knew her age, she pointed out that he would need to know athletes’ dates of birth when he registered them for meets.
She told police he had told her to delete the messages so there would not be any evidence, but she kept them: “I’m not exactly sure why.”
She said she sent Stephens the pictures because she did not want to get kicked off the team.
The situation was discovered when the girl’s mother found pictures on the girl’s phone.
The girl was asked in the police interview how she felt now that her mother knew. She said she was scared because she did not know what would happen.
She was worried about her track career and the team. The officer told her she was a child. “You’re not at fault,” he said.