Teacher extradited on sexual assault charges
An American educator is to be extradited to Bermuda to face sexual assault charges — more than ten years after his alleged offence against a teenage student at a local school.
The accused, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, has been ordered by an Alabama district court into the custody of United States marshals, prior to being handed over to British authorities.
According to the ruling, the accused claimed the allegation from May 3, 2007 could “equally be described as roughhousing” — but Magistrate Herman Johnson Jr found that the evidence submitted supported a “reasonable belief” that a sexual assault had been committed as defined by Bermuda law.
The 17-year-old complainant, said to have been a friend of the accused’s daughter, reported being approached in a classroom by the teacher after he shut the door and touched about her body.
During the incident, she “evinced discomfort with the alleged behaviour and sought escape”.
After breaking free, the complainant “immediately reported the incident to her relatives and school officials”.
The accused took a one-way flight to the US that same day after he was confronted by the school principal about the allegations, and suspended from work.
He faced charges in 2011 for multiple counts of sexual abuse while working as a fourth-grade teacher in Huntsville, Alabama, and a warrant was issued by local authorities after the matter was reported in The Royal Gazette.
However, Bermuda police were never told that an Alabama grand jury had failed to indict the accused, and his whereabouts were unknown after charges were dropped.
US Customs and Border Patrol contacted local police in December 2016 to report that the accused was returning to Alabama on board a cruise ship, and a fresh warrant was issued, followed by an extradition request from the Bermuda courts in January 2017. He was arrested by Alabama police in July.
While counsel argued that the Bermuda authorities had dragged their feet in tracking down the accused, the court refused to recognise the right to a speedy trial as a defence.
Nor was the statute of limitations argument accepted, as Bermudian law “provides that felonies chargeable by indictment do not have any limitations period against prosecution”.
The case was referred to the US Secretary of State pending the surrender of the accused “to the United Kingdom’s designated agents”.
• It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding court cases. As we are legally liable for any slanderous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.
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