Rape-victim’s family outraged about defense arguments in Velasquez case

POSTED: 10/24/11 1:51 AM

“Attorney meticulously fabricated extortion claim”

St. Maarten / By Hilbert Haar – The family of the 16-year-old girl who was raped by businessman Bobby Velasquez on March of last year is outraged about certain statements attorneys mr. J.G. Bloem and E.P. Sulvaran made during the appeal hearing on September 29. Especially statements attributed to the girl’s grandmother and the accusation that the mother had made an attempt to make the rape-complaint go away for $1.8 million have incensed the family. Velasquez was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment for the rape last week. His attorney mr. Bloem is now contesting a statement made in this newspaper that his allegation about the attempt to buy off the complaint is without foundation.

(To protect the girl’s identity, Today withholds the name of the family).

This is how mr. Sulvaran attacked the rape-victim’s character during the appeal hearing in September: “The parents want us to believe that she is a model teenager, but from statement of her grandmother we know that she was caught in the possession of drugs, that she sneaked out of the house at odd hours and that her father beat her with a bull whip. Three years ago she falsely accused a cousin of sexually assaulting her. Only after the boy’s mother threatened to go to the police did she admit that it was a joke. This is a girl with serious behavioral problems.”

When the family contacted this newspaper with the claim that the grandmother had never made such a statement Today attempted in vain to obtain a copy of Sulvaran’s plea. This newspaper only saw the plea after the victim’s mother received a copy from the prosecutor’s office. In the meantime, mr. Bloem confirmed to this newspaper that the reporting was accurate.

However, an email prosecutor mr. M.L.P. Ridderbeks sent to the family and of which this newspaper obtained a copy, emphatically states that the grandmother never made a statement to the police.  The prosecutor wrote that attorney Bloem “handed over in the early proceedings a lot of emails between P. (the girl’s mother), her mother and – I believe – some other family members. Based on those emails Bloem created a picture of Laura as if she was nothing but trouble since several months already. Those emails were never added to the file by me, because they had nothing to do with the allegations against Bobby Velasquez. The subjects were Laura sneaking out of the house, Laura smoking weed with her boyfriend and putting pictures on the internet, the grandmother wanting Laura to burn in hell etc. etc.”

A detailed statement the family made available to this newspaper confirms this. “Private email correspondence between the victim’s mother and grandmother were all considered inadmissible as it had absolutely nothing to do with the case. Bloem claimed that a statement was obtained from the grandmother. This is not true. Research later showed there was no statement whatsoever. It was yet another false allegation on behalf of the defense to discredit the victim.”

 

mr. Bloem took issue with the fact that this newspaper referred to the attempt to buy off the rape-complaint for $1.8 million as ‘unsubstantiated.” During the trial in the Court in First Instance, when the attorney made his claim in public for the first time, Today reported it. But the appeals court did not make the claim part of its considerations.

The family says about this aspect that mr. Bloem “meticulously fabricated a $1.5 million extortion claim” while the mother “only sought answers to the incident that took place with her daughter.”

The family relates what it claims to be the only phone call Velasquez made to the mother on March 10 – three days after the rape. According to the mother, Velasquez told her, “This is terrible! Do you know what this means and what this will do to my reputation?”

This is how the mother relates this phone conversation in the family’s statement: “He said she (my daughter) is crazy and that “she is a liar and needs to be sent off island immediately. I will personally pay to have her sent away to a correctional facility.”

The mother responded to this outburst saying, “You are my uncle but this is my daughter. She is undergoing therapy due to this incident and I will get back to you once I have my initial assessment from her therapist.”

A couple of days later the family received a phone call from mr. Bloem. That is when, as Bloem said in court, the mother asked for a meeting with the family. But according to the family’s statement, this did not go down well. “Bloem said, Mr. Velasquez will not confess, admit, or apologize to any of this.”

The mother replied: “So what you are telling me is that I must accept his options only and I must take my crazy child and ship her off island without knowing what took place?”

She then gave a few options of her own: admit and apologize, or “pay off our debts with the bank and I will take my crazy child and my family; we will move off island and then he could continue his Sir Velasquez life.”

According to the mother, mr. Bloem then asked, “How much will you sell one of your townhouses for?” to which she replied, “five hundred thousand each.”

This was the conversation that took place according to the family’s statement. mr. Bloem maintains however in an email he sent to this newspaper on Friday, that the claim is based on “several sources, including the mother of the alleged victim to the police.”

The family says that a couple of days after the phone conversation between Bloem and the mother, the grandmother asked the latter rather upset whether she was trying to extort $1.5 million from Velasquez.

When the mother contacted mr. Bloem, he said, according to the family’s statement: “”I thought that was the message you told me to give to Velasquez.” To that, the mother replied: “I want nothing from Velasquez; I just want him to apologize.”

The family is also upset about a statement mr. Bloem made in court, saying that Velasquez signed for the mother to get a bank loan for her property and that she was now trying to extort $1.8 million from him for the same building. “We have proof that Velasquez never signed for any loan on her behalf,” the family wrote in its statement.

The family also refutes allegations the defense attorneys made in court about the victim being caught in the possession of drugs at school. What really happened, the family states, is that a boy in her classroom was throwing around a Chiclets-box containing marijuana and that this box landed on the floor next to the girl’s desk. “The teacher asked whom it belonged to; the boy confessed and he was ultimately expelled from school. The school counselor confirmed that the victim was neither involved nor charged with possession of narcotics.”

The family also contests claims by the defense that the rape-victim had previously falsely accused a cousin of sexual assault. “We have contacted the mother of the cousin and the cousin himself and they both have informed us that all of this never took place, nor were there any threats to go to the police. The victim never made any implications of this being a joke either.”

Lastly, the family contests allegations that the girl had been caught shoplifting in the United States on one occasion. The girl was visiting the US with a friend, and the latter was caught stealing on a surveillance camera. “The (rape)-victim was outside the store when this happened. She was never convicted and no charges were brought against her. The friend was convicted for shoplifting and needs to return to the US to attend court.”

mr. Bloem in the meantime maintains that especially the attempt to buy off prosecution is founded on “statements by people and therefore verifiable sources.”

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