Sex assault survivor: ‘Bermuda has to know’


A brave survivor of child sex abuse said yesterday she had to face in court the man who violated her almost 50 years ago.

The woman said: “I had to do that. I had to be in court.”

She was speaking after Bernard Marshall, now 72, was jailed for four months for a sex assault on the woman sometime in the early 1970s.

Marshall, from Smith’s, admitted a charge of unlawfully and indecently assaulting a girl under 14 when he was aged about 26 last month in Magistrates’ Court.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said that she was “overwhelmed with emotion” in the wake of the sentencing and that she was grateful that Marshall would serve time in prison for his crime. She added: “He could have gotten nothing.”

The woman said Marshall was an “unsafe adult”.

She added: “The truth is in four months he will be out. And the community has to know.”

The woman said that it was “vitally important” that other victims found the courage to come forward — even decades after they were abused.

She added: “I know that it’s difficult — and in order for them to do that they need incredible support.”

But she said: “It does give some closure. It does give you your power back.”

The woman added that she was “overwhelmingly grateful” that she had been able to read a victim impact statement in court.

She explained: “That gave me some power and some control”.

The woman told the court that Marshall “stole her innocence”.

She said: “When he violated, deceived and used my eight-year-old body for his sexual pleasure he impacted my life and he scarred me.”

The woman added that Marshall — her father’s barber and her babysitter — “had a moral responsibility to keep me safe”.

She said that the abuse had led to years of promiscuity as a teenager and “confusing sex with love”.

The woman added that Marshall also robbed her of her ability to trust other people and left her with feelings of pain and shame. She told the court that the decision to report the crime wasn’t about “revenge and retribution” but about the protection of children.

The woman told Marshall that he had admitted the offence “but in the same breath you told me I wanted it”.

She said: “This is an absolute contradiction to confession. True confession doesn’t mean you blame a child. Blaming me was either a fantasy or your way of removing the guilt and shame from yourself.”

The woman added: “I didn’t cause it — and it wasn’t my fault.”

Prosecutor Maria Sofianos told the court that Marshall had stolen the victim’s childhood.

Ms Sofianos said: “It’s our position that this person should be separated from our society.”

She added that the sentence should serve as “a deterrent” to others.

Peter Farge, defence lawyer for Marshall, told the court his client had “felt guilt for all these years”.

He said that the abuse had been limited to “just that one occasion” and that Marshall had no convictions for similar offences.

Mr Farge added that an assessment had found that Marshall was classed as a low risk for reoffending.

He told the court that the maximum penalty at the time of the offence was a year in jail.

Mr Farge added that his client also had health problems, including hypertension, diabetes and ulcers on his legs.

Pastor Paul Richards, of Brighton Hill Church of Christ, Devonshire, said that Marshall had expressed “great sorrow” over his crime.

He added that the two had prayed for the woman to be healed. Marshall, who broke down in tears in court, told Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo he was “most sincerely sorry” for what he had done.

Mr Tokunbo told Marshall that he accepted that he was remorseful.

But he added: “You had a duty to protect her and not violate her.

“You let her down, her parents down, the community down.”

Mr Tokunbo recommended that Marshall undergo treatment programmes while in prison and a psychological assessment.

It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding criminal court cases. This is to prevent any statements being published that may jeopardise the outcome of that case.

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