Identify all sex offenders – abused girl’s father
The father of a sexually-abused girl is calling for sex offenders to be stripped of their rights to avoid further sickening attacks in Bermuda.
He is calling on Bermuda to “stop protecting the rights of the offenders” as he doesn’t want anyone else to go through the same nightmare his family has endured.
The father says the community “needs to be made aware of who these people are” with the introduction of a sex offenders register. Mentally ill outpatient Merrick Seaman sexually attacked the man’s five-year-old daughter when she playing outside with her cousin and sister.
On Tuesday the 25-year-old from Park Hill, Warwick was sentenced to eight years behind bars for two counts of sexual exploitation of a young person.
Seaman, who has suffered from schizophrenia and other mental illnesses for 20 years, was an outpatient at the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute (MWI) at the time of the assault in July 2010.
Chief Justice Richard Ground said he had an “apparent sexual obsession” and the Supreme Court heard he had been on sex offenders’ courses “to no avail”.
The father, who cannot be named for legal reasons, fears there is a high likelihood of Seaman reoffending when he is released from prison. The court heard how “he has a high risk of reoffending as long as he’s sexually capable”.
The father’s pleas come as Attorney General Michael Scott continues to review the system for tracking sex offenders in Bermuda. Campaigners across the Island have been calling for a publicly available register such as in the US and UK for many years. Informing the public about the criminal past of sex attackers living among them would enable parents to know when children may be at risk.
However, there are currently human rights concerns about giving the community an automatic right to be notified of convicted rapists and paedophiles. For a full-disclosure style register, Bermuda’s laws would have to be changed.
The young girl’s father said: “While I feel justice has been served, I feel that there is a high propensity for him to reoffend.
“It is certainly time for this country to stop protecting the rights of the offenders and give real consideration to the children that these people target.
“There is no time better than now to give serious considerations to a sex offenders register and strengthening of legislation so everyone can be made aware of who these people are.
“Moves of this magnitude will go a long way in ensuring that other children and their families do not have to live this nightmare”
Two years ago, Opposition MP Louise Jackson called the lack of a public register “scandalous”. She was speaking out following the conviction of Ze Selassie for the murder of schoolgirl Rhiana Moore.
Selassie had been convicted of rape ten years prior to killing 14-year-old Rhiana in May 2008. He engaged in a sexual relationship with the teenager, and killed her after she fell pregnant with his child.
Following the murder trial, the then Attorney General Kim Wilson confirmed that convicted sex offenders who have been jailed are obliged to inform police of their name and address for ten years after their release.
The punishment for failing to do so is a maximum $3,000 fine and / or a six-month prison sentence.
Mr Scott said yesterday he was “reviewing and strengthening the law” although he would not say whether this would include a public database. He is to report on the issue before the next Parliamentary session.
Mr Scott has met with the Women’s Resource Centre and the Coalition for the Protection of Children to discuss how a register could be maintained and managed.
The law as it stands also allows the AG to order the disclosure of details, including photographs, of offenders to individuals or groups if the person is thought to pose a significant threat. But no such order has been made since the law was passed in October 2001.
The Women’s Resource Centre is also continuing to press for a change in the law on sex offenders.
Elaine Williams, head of the WRC, said she was “most pleased” to see that progress was being made towards having a sexual offender’s register in Bermuda.
She said: “Although there is legislation for public disclosure, we would like to see the protocol progress toward something similar to Megan’s Law in the US.
“This could ensure that the public has legal access to information when someone is reasonably suspected of being a sex offender. If current legislation does not support this, then perhaps the law needs to change.
“This is a community problem, and we all have a part to play in creating awareness and remaining vigilant”.
Ms Williams added that her heart went out to the little girl and her family involved in this week’s court case. She said the ordeal was far from over for them as “the trauma to the victim encompasses physical, emotional and psychological short and long term effects”.
Megan’s Law in the US, named after a seven-year-old who was raped and murdered by a repeat-violent sex offender, mandates that authorities must inform communities of convicted sex attackers living in their area.
And in the UK, Sarah’s Law has recently been rolled out to permit parents to ask the police if someone with regular, unsupervised access to their children has a record for child sex offences.