Opinion: Only losers

POSTED: 06/17/11 2:21 PM

There are crimes and then there are crimes. From simple theft to armed robbery, from manslaughter to murder, and from indecent exposure to rape. You get caught, you end up at the courthouse sooner or later, where your whole history will be put on public display. For someone who stole loaf of bread, or for someone who ended up with a manslaughter charge as the result of an argument that ran out of control, such exposure is up to a point bearable. People have short memories, and their thought will soon move on to the next crime story.

Rape-trials are per definition different, and we experienced a fine example of why this is so in the courthouse on Wednesday afternoon. If you are accused of rape your reputation is already halfway down the tubes before your lawyer has opened his mouth. Public opinion makes almost habitual short shrift of rape-suspects. In the prison population they’re at the bottom of the totem pole (though once they are there, they have of course been convicted and they are no longer suspects.

Raping someone is bad but being falsely accused of rape is equally bad, Bobby V.’s attorney Jairo Bloem said on Wednesday.

The court room drama involves, as we all know, a successful businessman with a royal decoration to his name and a (at the time of the alleged rape) 16-year old girl who happens to be his niece.

The events that form the basis of the court case were described in vivid and graphic detail during the trial, and we wisely chose to stay away from the more raunchy details in our reporting.

The bottom line is: uncle Bobby, who is 66, is accused by his niece of rape. Seeing the defendant sit in his chair facing the judge, and reading his body language, it was plain for everyone to see that he was ready for battle.

Behind the press table there was a remarkable spectator in the audience: the defendant’s niece – the alleged rape-victim. She sat through the proceedings in the company of her emotional mother and her calmer father, outwardly without moving a muscle.

The prosecution had asked the girl to testify at trial, and the girl had agreed to it. The only reason she did not get a chance to say something was that Judge Keppels denied the prosecution’s request to hear her.

What possible motive could such a young girl have to accuse her uncle? The prosecution wondered. The defense presented a motive: $1.8 million.

Money is, with passion, among the strongest of motives to commit a crime. So what are we dealing with in this case? A dirty old uncle who could not keep his hands off his teenaged nice? Or maybe a case wherein a 16-year old girl, who wants to become an actress, has been used as a pawn in a high stakes poker game?

The defendant claimed the moral high ground at the end of the trial by blasting the prosecutor’s office for the way he had been treated (“after everything I have done for this island”).

That remark gave the Judge a good insight in the man’s character. He expects special treatment where none is due, because under the law all rape-suspects are equal. It is not so that the successful businessmen among them get the royal suite, while the low-lives get the worst room in the house.

But arrogance does not equal guilt, and the question is now which value the Judge will  attach to the defense-claim that the girl’s family attempted to make a quick buck out of something that maybe never happened.

Whatever the ruling on July 1 may be, one thing is certain. Bobby V. could be as innocent as he claims to be, people will forever link his name to raping a 16-year old. Never mind that, back in 1983, one of his daughters was kidnapped, raped and killed on the island.

And no matter how true the story of the nice may turn out to be, her name will be forever linked with a scheme to squeeze a couple of millions out of her  66-year old uncle.

Whatever the outcome of the trial, at the end of the day there will only be losers.

 

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