Man acquitted of raping little boy after spending 7 months in jail

POSTED: 08/12/11 7:14 PM

St. Maarten – Patrick Ray A., a 42-year-old who held two jobs until his arrest on December 26 of last year – as a deliveryman and as a security guard – was acquitted of rape charges in the Court in First Instance yesterday for lack of evidence. The defendant stood accused of raping a 4-year-old boy twice, in April and in early December of last year. The sexual abuse on the little boy allegedly took place while his mother was absent. The defendant denied the charges.
Initially, attorney mr. S.R. Bommel insisted on hearing psychologist Arndell as a witness. The key issue for the defense was the reliability of a so-called studio-interview with the little boy wherein he told a psychologist what had happened to him. Three different psychologists evaluated the interview-tape, and they arrived at different conclusions – from totally reliable and credible to only partly reliable.
The prosecutor’s office had not been able to summon Arndell to court because she is off island, and another postponement loomed because Bommel insisted that she wanted to hear her as a witness. In June the trial was moved to yesterday’s hearing for this reason. However, after consultation with his attorney, the defendant opted to continue with the trial and drop the witness-hearing.
The defendant told the court that the mother had never mentioned anything about sexual abuse to him, saying that he had taken her and the child to the hospital on the French side in December and that he had paid for the expenses. To police, the mother said that she had confronted the man after the child had told her that he had been raped.
But prosecutor mr. J.C.G. van der Wulp asked the court to acquit the defendant because there is insufficient proof for a conviction. An analysis of the medical report by the Dutch Forensic Institute NFI strengthened the prosecutor’s belief that there is room for reasonable doubt.
Van der Wulp acknowledged that the charges are serious, but said that investigating them is complicated. “We cannot exclude the possibility that the child’s statements have been inspired by the mother.”
A complicating factor is that the studio-interview with the little boy took place long after the second rape that allegedly took place on December 20 of last year. “That time-lapse diminished the value of the studio-interview,’ the prosecutor said.
mr. Bommel saved the court her defense plea. “I agree with the prosecutor that there is insufficient evidence to convict my client,” she said.
Judge mr. M. Keppels followed the prosecutor’s demand for an acquittal. “There are question marks,” she said. “The evidence is too meager for a conviction.” The judge ordered the defendant’s immediate release.

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