Premier Alden McLaughlin on Wednesday sought to address the controversy over the legal status of a track coach who was convicted and sentenced last year for convincing a 14-year-old girl to send the coach topless pictures of herself.
Ato Modibo Stephens, who was conditionally released from prison following a November 2017 hearing of the Conditional Release Board, remains on island and has not been deported as per the recommendation of Grand Court Judge Michael Wood.
Mr. Stephens was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment in August 2017 on one charge of using an information and communication technology network to annoy, harass or abuse an underage female. He was found not guilty by Judge Wood of other charges of indecent assault or gross indecency.
He will remain on conditional release in the Cayman Islands until his sentence is officially served on Feb. 4, 2019, government officials said this week.
In a statement released late Wednesday, responding to media reports about the matter, Premier McLaughlin said, “The Cabinet of the Cayman Islands has not yet considered the court’s recommendation for the deportation of Ato Modibo Stephens.”
Two days earlier, Mr. McLaughlin’s ministry chief officer, Wesley Howell, released a different statement to the Cayman Compass: “With regard to Mr. Stephens’ case, when weighing all of the circumstances including the nature of the offense for which he was convicted and the fact that he has a Caymanian spouse and two Caymanian children, the Cabinet is not considering making a deportation order in this instance at this time.”
Both Mr. McLaughlin and Mr. Howell agreed in their statements that the court can only make recommendations with regard to deportation and that the decision to send someone off the islands ultimately rests with Cabinet.
Mr. McLaughlin’s statement continued: “Cabinet considers the circumstances of the case, the law, any connections which the convicted person may have to the Cayman Islands and the rights, including the right to family life, accorded everyone under the Bill of Rights, Freedoms and Responsibilities enshrined in the Cayman Islands Constitution.
“The Cabinet is also required to take into consideration the seriousness of the offense, the risks posed to the community by the continued residence here of the convicted person. Based on all these factors, Cabinet then makes a determination as to whether or not it is appropriate to make a deportation order.”
Opposition Leader Ezzard Miller released a statement Thursday regarding the issue: “We urge the Cabinet to now do its duty and remove this man from the Cayman Islands. The law requires that this matter be considered by the Cabinet and that a decision must be made.”