John Michael Soriano was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment in Grand Court Tuesday following a conviction for rape of an acquaintance in Cayman Brac.

Soriano, 31, a native of the Philippines who had lived in Cayman for just a few months before the September 2018 incident, tearfully listened as the sentence was read.

The court heard Tuesday that the complainant was a friend of Soriano’s girlfriend at the time and that she had experienced trauma as a result of the ordeal. Justice Marlene Carter read from the victim impact report and disclosed that the complainant said she had almost killed herself, that she could not trust anybody any more and did not feel safe, and that her “plans and dreams were crushed”.

Soriano maintained that the sex was consensual. Justice Carter said the defendant blamed the victim for initiating the physical act, adding that he “has not displayed any empathy or remorse”.

“Sex offenders often use denial to avoid facing the consequences of their actions,” said Justice Carter prior to imposing her sentence. “Relationship and acquaintanceship rape cannot be treated any differently or less seriously than rape by a stranger.”

Soriano had been drinking the night of the rape, which occurred in the West End Road area of the Brac, but he had no history of substance abuse, the court heard.

In her evidence, the complainant had said she had gone to visit a female friend at the friend’s workplace, but after a while went to her friend’s apartment on her own because she had a headache. Soriano was in the apartment when she arrived, she said. She went into the friend’s bedroom and lay down on the bed, playing with her phone. She said Soriano entered the room and raped her.

Crown counsel Kenneth Ferguson said that Soriano had breached the trust of the complainant, and he underlined the fact that the defendant has never accepted responsibility for his actions. But he also acknowledged that Soriano had no previous convictions and did not use violence to coerce the complainant.

Defence counsel Crister Brady said that the report prepared by probation officers said that Soriano is a very hard worker and a father of two. It also stated that he is an educated man who has had to do “relatively menial tasks to support his family”, while living in Cayman.

“This is not a typical report that we expect to find with a defendant convicted of an offence such as this,” said Brady as part of his sentencing submissions.

Justice Carter took the submissions from both counsels into account before imposing her sentence. The starting point for a rape sentence, she said, was 10-12 years in the absence of aggravating and mitigating circumstances. In this case, she said, the mitigation outweighed the aggravation.

The incident was opportunistic, said Justice Carter, in that there is no evidence that the defendant had planned to force himself on the complainant and had not previously made unwanted advances.

Soriano, she said, had previously lived a normal life outside the eye of the law.

“His upbringing and background do not reveal a defendant who had exhibited any behaviour that could be considered forewarning that he would commit an offense such as this,” said Justice Carter.

Soriano, who had a Tagalog interpreter present to relay the words of the attorneys and Justice Carter, wiped tears from his face and hugged his father before being remanded into custody.

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