Will a wrongfully accused sex offender sue the state?

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The police/state could be sued for the alleged “malicious prosecution” of a man who was charged with two sex crimes against a teenager who initially lied about her age and gave an incorrect year as to when she and the man allegedly had sex.
It was only last week, more than a year after the media personality was charged, that the Crown prosecution withdrew the matter in the High Court after the indictment for trial had been filed.
The man’s lawyer, Ralph Francis, said they have not yet discussed their next move, though he maintains that his client was maliciously prosecuted even in the face of him highlighting that the police’s own evidence file (deposition) proved that the teen with whom the man allegedly had sex, was in fact not under the age of consent.
Here are the facts: In early 2017, fingers were pointed at the 53-year-old man – who cannot be named because he was not convicted – after audio of a sex negotiation between them was leaked to the public.
On March 1, 2017 the teen told police that she was born on December 21, 2000 and that she was 15 years old when they allegedly had sex. She also claimed that he committed the act of serious indecency on her, and both offences occurred “some time in July 2015.”
The man was then charged with two sex offences. He remained a custody for a few days and was then released on bail.
Soon after that, the child gave the police another statement, indicating that on the first day that she and her mother were going to the station to report the matter, her mother told her to lie about her age, and she did so.
She also said in that second statement on March 26, 2017, that the reason for lying was because she and her sister “are old” and the mother felt the “police wouldn’t do anything about it.” By that time, the police had obtained a copy of her birth certificate so there was no way it could be maintained that she was born in 2000.
Another important change was made in that second statement. That involved when the incident occurred.
As noted earlier, she had said it was in 2015, but in the second statement, she was specific that it occurred on a Saturday when there was “Red Eye” fete in July 2016.
It is noted that two different officers took the statements on March 1, 2017 and March 26, 2017.
The man and his lawyer, as required by law, were kept up to date with the matter and served a copy of the evidence file so he would be aware of the specific allegations against him.
Recognising the child’s age as indicated in the second statement, the man’s attorney, Ralph Francis made a no case submission, arguing before Chief Magistrate Joanne Walsh that the teenager was over the age of consent, therefore there was no crime because the charges were for having sex with a person under the age of consent.
Based on the written and signed copy of his no-case submission, which is also in OBSERVER media’s possession, he stressed that the incident allegedly occurred when the person was already over the age of consent and, for support, the lawyer pointed directly to specific statements in the deposition that was before the court.
The submission was written to Magistrate Walsh on February 8, 2018. In it, Francis also charged, “I would go further to submit that this is a clear case of malicious prosecution and clearly a case of abuse of the process. The defendant has been reporting (to the police as per bail conditions) daily for nearly a year. He has been restricted from traveling and as a result his business has suffered. I ask my Lady finds that there is no case to be committed.”
In reply, the police prosecution team maintained there was a case to answer as they zoomed in only on the teen’s first statement where she said the incident happened in 2015, while they ignored the second statement where she recanted the year it occurred and her age.
The chief magistrate dismissed Francis’s application and sent the matter to the High Court for trial before a judge and jury.
Subsequent to that, the indictment prepared by the prosecutor arguing the case at that level, Crown Counsel Adlai Smith, reflected that the offence occurred in 2016.
The indictment, which is a public document and which is now in OBSERVER media’s possession, was for two offences, one of which states that: “[The accused name omitted], on a day between the 1st day of June 2016 and the 31st day of July 2016, at Radio Range in the Parish of St. John, in Antigua and Barbuda, had sexual intercourse with [complainant’s name omitted], a female under the age of fifteen (15) years.”
 And the second allegation reads: “Serious indecency, contrary to Section 15(1) of the Sexual Offences Act, No.9 of the Laws of Antigua and Barbuda…on a day between the 1st day of June and the 31st day of July 2016, at Radio Range, in the Parish of St. John, in Antigua and Barbuda, committed an act of serious indecency on a female of the age of fifteen (15) years by [description of act omitted].”
Francis again raised the issue about the facts of the case … that the child was born in 1999, that the incident occurred in mid-2016, therefore she had attained the age of consent, and so the charges were not valid because they were specifically alleging that the teen was under the age of consent.
Smith concurred, and Justice Iain Morley gave a formal not guilty ruling as is required by law after the case was withdrawn.
Meanwhile, following the discontinuation of the case and public comments from the Crown prosecutor, a meeting was called with the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Chief Magistrate, attorney general and other officials.
Coming out of that meeting on Tuesday, Crown Counsel Smith was ordered not to make any further comments about the case in keeping with office policy where he is unauthorised to speak.
This was done after he sought to educate and inform the public about the sequence of events and issues that existed, while he distanced himself from the blunder which saw the charge being upheld before the Chief Magistrate.

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