Man sentenced on appeal for sex with underage girl

PHILIPSBURG--The Court of Appeals on Thursday sentenced a 49-year-old man from the Dominican Republic for having been in a sexual relationship with a minor girl.
For this crime, the man was sentenced to 18 months suspended, on three years’ probation, and 240 hours of community service.
 
The Court of First Instance had sentenced the defendant to 18 months, six of which were suspended, on three years’ probation, for having been in a sexual relationship with a minor girl. The lower Court also ordered a contact ban which expired after the girl reached the age of consent, 16, in September 2017.
 
The suspect had filed for appeal as he believed he did not deserve punishment. He did not deny that he had been in a relationship with the girl from March 2015, when she was 13 years old. He said the girl had told him she was 17, going to be 18, and he had believed her. He said the sexual intercourse had been consensual.
 
He also made the girl pregnant. He informed the Court that he had wanted to continue his relationship with the girl and had taken care of the young mother and her child.
 
He told the Appeals Court’s Judges during the hearing of December 14, 2017, that they were no longer in a relationship, but that he was still looking after their 11-month-old baby during the day. He said he had adhered to and had “respected” the contact ban.
In considering the case proven, the Solicitor General had called for a prison sentence of 24 months, six of which were suspended, on three years’ probation, with Parole Board guidance.
 
In attorney-at-law Geert Hatzmann’s opinion, the Prosecutor’s Office was wide off the mark in this case. He repeated his initial pleadings to declare the Prosecutor’s Office case against his client inadmissible, as the man has had a good influence on the underage girl, and had provided her with a stable situation.
 
The Appeals Court dismissed the lawyer’s claims for inadmissibility as the defendant, led by his own lust, had broken the law by having intercourse with a girl younger than 16 years old.
 
In this respect it was irrelevant whether the relationship between the man and the girl had been consensual and (financially) beneficial to the girl, the Court stated.
 
The suspect had met the 13-year-old girl in the street at night and had sex with her shortly thereafter. In that light, the Court considered the girl’s consent to be irrelevant.
 
The Appeals Court stated the man’s crimes warranted an unconditional prison sentence, but in sentencing it was considered that the defendant, who is a first offender, had not forsaken his obligation to take care of his child, and to a certain extent, also its mother.
 
It was also taken into consideration that the homes of the suspect and the victim’s mother were both severely damaged by Hurricane Irma. The defendant, in the meantime, had found himself another home, in which he provided shelter to his little child, of which he is the main provider and caretaker.
 
Based on psychological reports, the Court held the defendant less accountable for his acts.
 
The Daily Herald

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