The Florida battery case against Cayman Islands Speaker of the House McKeeva Bush was dropped last week due to insufficient evidence, according to documents obtained through the state’s open records law.
Mr. Bush, 62, was arrested following a July 17 incident at the Seminole Coconut Creek Casino in South Florida. The battery allegation against him was dismissed before it went to court, state prosecutors confirmed last Friday, although they did not state why. The allegation was made by a casino waitress who said Mr. Bush inappropriately touched her while she was serving him.
After state prosecutors in Broward County reviewed the allegation based on the waitress’ statement and surveillance video from inside the casino, they concluded there was insufficient evidence to charge Mr. Bush.
“The surveillance video does not show a touch of the victim’s buttocks, but rather, Bush reaching over and placing his right arm around her,” an Aug. 7 memo from the state attorney’s office states. “The state made a determination that the touching, as depicted in the video, does not show the criminal intent necessary to file a charge of battery.”
According to Florida law, the state would have to prove the victim was struck or touched “against their will.” It also requires the state to prove the defendant knew the touching was unwanted.
In the matter involving Mr. Bush, prosecutors found there was no reasonable likelihood of conviction “due to the conflict in the evidence arising out of the victim’s recitation of the facts and what is depicted on the surveillance footage.”
The memo from prosecutors further states: “After review of the evidence, it is the determination of the Broward State Attorney’s Office that while there was a touching that was not welcome, there is insufficient evidence it was done with the requisite criminal intent. Therefore, the criminal charge was declined.”
In a statement released late Friday, Mr. Bush said he believed Florida prosecutors had worked “diligently” on the matter.
“I have protested my innocence and repeatedly stated that I committed no crime,” Mr. Bush said. “I have expected and anticipated that a thorough review of the allegation would prove [the] same.”
Some members of the Cayman Islands political opposition had called for an ethics review against Mr. Bush following his arrest, while others noted in a prepared statement that government should take “the necessary action” – without specifying the nature of that action.
However, not all members of the opposition agreed. George Town Central MLA Kenneth Bryan said he did not wish for there to be a rush to judgment against Mr. Bush and also expressed concern that his removal as House Speaker might threaten the stability of the government.
Premier Alden McLaughlin has declined to make any statement on the matter.