Sunday, January 21, 2018

‘Four years’ for rape

Magistrate: Girls in school uniforms off limits


‘IGNORANCE NO EXCUSE’: Dion Taylor leaves the San Fernando First Criminal Court, yesterday. —Photo: DAVE PERSAD

Mark Fraser

IN sentencing a man to close to four years in jail for the rape of a 13-year-old girl, Justice Hayden St Clair-Douglas yesterday warned that girls in school uniforms are off limits.

Before sending Dion Taylor of Point Fortin to jail for three years and ten months, the judge said a girl under the age of 14  is not equipped emotionally, socially and financially to cope with the potential consequences of sexual activity. 

These, he said, include pregnancy or the threat of her contracting a sexually-transmitted disease.

“I am convinced in no circumstances, sexual activity with a girl under the age of 14 is acceptable, excusable or understandable. In addition to her age, she was on the day in question dressed in her school uniform. This factor can’t be explained excused, accepted or overlooked,” said St Clair-Douglas in the San Fernando First Criminal Court.

He said a girl that age is not capable of properly raising a child and should not have that responsibility. 

He also said the girl could be taken off the path of proper development and her education stands to be affected. 

“Her entire life course could be altered,” the judge said.

St Clair-Douglas added that such a girl could be robbed of her childhood as she is introduced prematurely to a world with which she is not yet equipped to cope.

He said while Taylor may claim ignorance to categories of the Sexual Offences Act of Trinidad and Tobago, every young man should be aware that children in school uniform must be allowed to move to and from school unmolested and, “young girls, especially young school girls ought to be off limits”.

The State proved the victim who was not yet 14 years went to Taylor’s house on February 21, 2005 and then to the home of one his friends. They were alone at the house when they had sexual intercourse.

Taylor, who was then 19 years old, was charged by Corporal Baptiste. He pleaded guilty on May 27 this year.

St Clair-Douglas said the penalties showed the seriousness of such offences. For having sexual  intercourse with a girl under the age of 14 years, the maximum sentence is life in prison.

St Clair-Douglas said defence attorney Wilston Campbell in speaking on his client’s behalf, said societal failings resulted in the prisoner’s ignorance of the criminality of his actions, and also the victim had been the aggressor.

The judge said while Taylor may claim he was unaware of the law, the court will send a message “in clear and unambiguous terms...deterrence looms large”.