Three and a half years for child pornography

Former UCCI lecturer called ‘unfit’ to be among children

Pierre Pavlov Rameau, former lecturer at University College of the Cayman Islands, was sentenced on Thursday to three and a half years imprisonment for possession of child pornography.

Pierre Rameau

Mr. Rameau’s collection of thousands of images was found by police in March 2017. He pleaded guilty in December to 12 specimen charges and has been in custody since then.

In passing sentence, Justice Carlisle Greaves said he considered that Mr. Rameau was unfit to reside in Cayman, unfit to be found in any educational institution in the world, and unfit to be among people’s children. He said the defendant was just too dangerous to be given the responsibility of mingling with any young people, particularly in any educational institution where he had the power to make them or break them. Mr. Rameau had occupied a position of trust, but had betrayed that trust by his conduct, the judge said.

Justice Greaves indicated regret that he was unable to order Mr. Rameau’s deportation upon completion of sentence, but the court could suggest to authorities that he be deported forthwith. He did have the power to order that the pornography be destroyed and he made that order at the request of senior Crown counsel Nicole Petit.

Ms. Petit earlier advised that the maximum sentence in Cayman for possession of child pornography is 15 years. She said a distinction should be made between a person who produces the images or distributes them and a person who possesses them for his own gratification. She suggested that the large quantity of images put Mr. Rameau at the four and a half year level. She pointed out that, because the evidence was so strong, the judge did not have to feel obliged to give a full one-third discount for the guilty pleas.

The pornography was discovered after a female student asked Mr. Rameau for assistance with class work. He moved their email conversation to Snapchat and asked her to send him indecent photos of herself. A complaint was subsequently filed with police which led to a charge of using an Information and Communication Technology network to annoy, abuse and harass the female by requesting her to send him indecent images. Police obtained a search warrant for his residence and workplace and they seized computers, hard drives, flash drives and Mr. Rameau’s iPhone.

Each hard drive could hold up to 100,000 images. Due to the large quantity, not all were examined. Defense attorney Prathna Bodden calculated that the 12 charges on the indictment involved 1,107 still images and 505 videos.

Justice Greaves said he had struggled to find the appropriate sentence, taking into account the high quantity and quality of the images as well as the nature of them. There were three categories, he noted: penetrative sexual activity, non-penetrative activity and erotic posing. Some of the children were virtual toddlers. In many instances, the faces of the children were shown while the faces of men in the photos with them were hidden. Some of the children’s faces showed pain, the judge said.

He decided he would give a full one-third discount for the guilty pleas because without them, a trial jury would have had the heart-wrenching experience of viewing the images.

The judge went through two sentencing exercises, imposing both concurrent and consecutive sentences for the different charges. In his opinion, the aggravating features meant that the high-end of the sentencing range should not be below 10 years. After discount his sentence would have been seven years. “A man in your position should really have the book thrown at you,” he told Mr. Rameau.

The judge said the Crown represents the interests of the public, so he was following Ms. Petit’s submissions.

The most serious offense involved 161 indecent photographs of children engaged in penetrative sexual activity, he said, imposing a term of five years. He set sentences ranging from six months to three years for other charges, but made them all run concurrently. After discount, the final total sentence was three and a half years. He allowed time in custody to count against sentence.

Later, Ms. Petit confirmed that Mr. Rameau is a Haitian national who had emigrated to the USA and had come to Cayman from there.

Ms. Bodden in mitigation had pointed out that Mr. Rameau had been of previous good character, he was remorseful and had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity. His career was now over. Press coverage of his case had been far and wide so starting his life over again at his age (49) will be difficult, she told the court.