(Trinidad and Tobago Newsday) IT IS nothing short of a miracle, a San Fernando judge said yesterday, that a nine-year-old girl not only kept her sanity but also managed somehow to cope with being raped on several occasions over a five-year period.
Justice Hayden St Clair Douglas made this observation in the San Fernando High Court as he sentenced Alvin Rodriguez to 74 years in prison for raping the child in 2000, 2003 and 2005. The girl used to travel by bus to attend secondary school. One day on her way home in the bus, the child who was then in Form II, tearfully confided to the driver that she was being sexually assaulted. Rodriguez was arrested shortly after. The 52-year-old man was found guilty by a jury on November 29, on a charge of grievous sexual assault and three charges of rape. Senior State Attorney Sabrina Dougdeen-Jaglal prosecuted at the trial. The State alleged that Rodriguez he offered the girl $1,000 on a date unknown in 2000. He then raped her. She was nine.
The prosecution led further evidence that on two occasions in 2003, Rodriguez again offered money and again raped the child. She was 12. Dougdeen-Jaglal led evidence from the victim, now 27, who told the court that when she turned 14 in 2005, Rodriguez committed a grievous sexual act on her.
She testified before a jury of nine members and Justice St Clair Douglas. The victim told the court that when she turned 17, she confessed to the bus driver about what had happened. A day after the confession, the driver visited the girl’s school and spoke to a teacher. The police were then called in.
Rodriguez chose to defend himself in the witness box, but was found guilty at the end of the trial. Justice St Clair Douglas sentenced him to 27 years’ imprisonment for the grievous sexual assault charge and 18 years on each of the three counts of rape. Seven years were deducted for time spent in prison awaiting trial. Rodriguez, a musician and song writer, will serve 20 years as the sentences were ordered to run concurrently.
In sentencing Rodriguez, St Clair Douglas told him that even his attorney Ramesh Deena, admitted he could not say much to the court by way of mitigation. “The probation officer’s report stated the victim was visibly shaken when interviewed.” He then concurred with the report which stated it was nothing short of a miracle that the victim was able to cope with the reality of what had happened to her.