On February 26th, Justice Vera Watkins will decide the fate of a Bahamian man who was convicted of sexual intercourse with an 11-year-old girl and forcing her to have an abortion. In June 2013, the victim told Dwight Bethel, 41, that she was carrying his child and he took her to an abortion facility four months later.
However, during the abortion the child’s mother called to inquire of her whereabouts and she left the facility before the abortion was complete. As a result, she had to deliver the dead unborn baby at home and was instructed by Bethel to wrap it in a plastic bag so he could come and collect it.
The girl’s mother reported the abuse to the police when she had to take her daughter to Princess Margaret Hospital the following day. At the hospital, the girl was diagnosed and treated for an incomplete septic abortion.
Bethel’s defense attorney, Stanley Rolle, has requested for three years probation rather than prison time since it’s his client’s first sexual assault. Rolle also said that if the court saw probation as an unacceptable punishment, then imprisonment for no more than seven years would be sufficient.
Contrastingly, the prosecutor in the case, Algernon Allen II, asked the court to consider the seriousness of the case and to remember that the offence would likely scar the victim for life. He also emphasized that Bethel was not only unanimously convicted of two counts of unlawful sexual intercourse, but also of abetment to an abortion. Allen II has asked the court for imprisonment for no less than 14-years.
Attorney Lisa Fox said this case should highlight the “vexing issues that affect all, inclusive of men, women and children”. She told the Tribune the following about the case: “I believe that it is imperative that awareness on these issues be heightened, and it is time for a glaring light to be shown, therefore lending support for victims and survivors and bringing to the attention of those who may not be aware that these problems are live and real.”
She concluded, “I believe that this case is one which should incorporate a sentence term that considers the breach of the order as a matter of principle and to send a strong message to the community and more specifically to perpetrators of sexual and domestic violence. The fact that the breach of the order was not considered in the proceedings suggests that the issue of domestic violence is not being taken seriously enough, therefore putting victims and survivors of domestic violence at risk of reoffenders.”