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Police officer pleads guilty to intruding on privacy of a female

Guilty: Sean Simons will be sentenced in January (Photograph supplied)

A police officer will be sentenced in January after pleading guilty to a charge of intruding on the privacy of a female.

Sean Simons admitted the crime after prosecutors withdrew a second, more serious charge of sexual assault against his victim, a fellow officer.

After his guilty plea at Magistrates’ Court last week, Simons, 52, from Pembroke, was given bail but ordered to appear in court again on January 5 for sentencing.

Commissioner of Police Darrin Simons said last night that the constable had been suspended since October 2021 and his employment status was under review after his guilty plea.

He is the fourth police officer in three years to be convicted of a criminal offence.

According to prosecutors, Simons’s victim was having lunch at a Hamilton restaurant with a friend on the afternoon of June 11, 2021.

During the meal, she got up to go to the bathroom and had to walk past a table where Simons was sitting with friends.

Prosecutor Shaunté Simons-Fox told the court: “The table that the defendant and his friends were seated was located in the pathway of the male and female bathroom.

“As the complainant approached, two of the men who were with the defendant and whom the complainant is familiar with, got up and started verbally greeting her. During this time, the defendant also got up from his seat and walked directly into the complainant’s personal space.

“The defendant stood close to the complainant, almost touching her face with his face.

“The complainant stated that she felt offended by what the defendant did and she pushed the defendant with her hand in his upper chest and told him to get out of her personal space.

“The defendant immediately raised his hands in the air and stated: ‘You touched my chest and I could touch you’.

“He immediately gripped her and lifted her off the ground, in a bear hug with both his hands, placing her above his height. The complainant stated that she shouted at the defendant repeatedly to put her down.

“The defendant eventually put her down after the complainant pleaded with him three times to do so.”

She added: “Whilst the defendant was putting the complainant on the ground, he kissed her twice on her right cheek and once on her neck.”

The court heard that the victim was eventually able to get to the bathroom but once there, heard someone banging on the door and calling her name.

Simons approached her again when she tried to return to her table, grabbing her around her waist, only letting go after she repeatedly told him to leave her alone.

Ms Simons-Fox said: “The complainant stated that during her interaction with the defendant, she smelt the scent of alcohol on his breath, he appeared to be spitting whilst talking to her and his eyes appeared bloodshot.”

The victim suffered from a bruised back in the incident and felt “embarrassed, humiliated and offended” by Simons’s actions.

Simons, who joined the Bermuda Police Service in 2010 after serving in the Royal Bermuda Regiment, was eventually interviewed by detectives in August 2021 but declined to answer questions. He was arrested and charged in October last year.

The Commissioner of Police said Simons was suspended at that time in accordance with the Police (Conduct) Orders 2016, which provided that the suspended officer must still be paid.

He added: “Also in accordance with the Police (Conduct) Orders 2016, Pc Simons currently remains an employee of the Bermuda Police Service.

“However, in light of his guilty plea, his status is now under review.”

In response to questions from The Royal Gazette, the police commissioner said four officers including Simons have faced criminal charges and been convicted in the past three years.

He added: “The Bermuda Police Service maintains confidence that officers will uphold professional standards in the performance of their duties as well as during interactions with members of the public.

“Where an officer is alleged to have fallen below the standards of professional behaviour, the BPS’s Professional Standards Department follows stringent guidelines to have such matters robustly addressed, thus ensuring accountability across all ranks, fair treatment of officers and helping engender public confidence in the organisation.”

In June, former officer Jermari Belboda, 27, was given a suspended prison sentence for a sexual assault on a woman colleague committed while he worked for the BPS.

A month before, former policewoman Lakila Hart, 29, was given a six-month suspended jail sentence after admitting abuse of power and offering to supply drugs while a serving officer.

The Royal Gazette reported last December that almost half of Bermuda’s police officers had been investigated for alleged wrongdoing in the past three years. The majority of complaints were resolved or dismissed and mostly were for allegations of incivility.