Convicted track coach leaves Cayman

Ato Stephens

Former Cayman Islands track coach Ato Modibo Stephens left the Cayman Islands Sunday following his criminal conviction last year for convincing a 14-year-old girl to send him topless photos of herself.

Acting Governor Franz Manderson’s office and Premier Alden McLaughlin’s office both confirmed Mr. Stephens’s departure to Miami.

“Mr. Stephens is now a prohibited immigrant to the Cayman Islands,” the premier’s office statement issued Monday read. “Under Section 82(h) of the Immigration Law, a prohibited immigrant is ‘a person who, not having received a free pardon, has been convicted in any country of an offence for which a sentence of imprisonment of or exceeding 12 months has been passed otherwise than for non-payment of a fine.’”

Cayman Islands Cabinet members approved the deportation, according to an announcement in early March.

Mr. Stephens was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Aug. 4, 2017 and a Cayman Islands Grand Court judge recommended his deportation following completion of his sentence.

The judge further noted during sentencing that Mr. Stephens had already spent nearly a year in prison by that time. Some of it was in Florida, where he was arrested after leaving the Cayman Islands. The rest of that time was spent in Cayman prison awaiting trial.

Mr. Stephens’s case was then heard by the Conditional Release Board in November 2017, and he was granted conditional release from prison. Although the conditional release was approved in November, the release license expired on Feb. 15, 2018, according to an earlier statement from the premier’s office.

Mr. Stephens’s prison sentence resulted from a conviction 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 Grand Court Judge Michael Wood of other charges of indecent assault or gross indecency.

According to U.S. court records, Mr. Stephens is originally from Trinidad and Tobago, but he also is an American citizen.

Justice Wood said during sentencing for Mr. Stephens in August 2017 that he did not find the teenage girl making the accusations to be a liar, but the judge said that was not the legal test. Justice Wood had to be sure of the defendant’s guilt and there was “just enough doubt for me to be not sure,” he said.

The judge said it was perhaps with “a degree of reluctance” that he found Mr. Stephens not guilty of the other charges against him. Justice Wood pointed out that the maximum sentence for using an ICT network to abuse is two years. He considered that Mr. Stephens’s offense had been at the top end of such offending.