Cop, Civilian charged with Kidnapping

Recently Commissioner of Police Vernon Francois was embroiled in a short lived war of words with Human Rights advocate and lawyer Mary Francis. At a meeting with police officers Francois had told cops not to worry about the “Mary Francis’ of this world” and that they had his full support as long as they operated within the law.
Francois’ pronouncement came amidst mounting pressure on the police by Mary Francis to answer questions about the shooting death of five men in Vieux Fort by police. The case is reportedly scheduled for Inquest.
Said Francois at the meeting: “I think what you’re doing is noble. What you’re doing is great work and you have the support of the majority of St Lucians. So until and unless a matter involving a police officer has gone through its entire court process and the court has determined you have acted improperly you have my full and complete support. I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt in every instance. Like I said it cannot be that we use our powers as police officers to abuse the rights of others. We need to respect the rights of other people. We need to respect the human rights of other people.”
A week later the police force has been forced to weather another storm as news surfaced Tuesday of a police officer accused of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old who is believed to be autistic. The incident occurred on Monday night in the community of Canaries where the police officer in question along with a civilian were reportedly caught assaulting the young man.
ACP for Crime Frances Henry has spoken to television reporters and said the police were following proper investigative procedure.
Henry, in an HTS news report, stated: “The aspersion is because it is a police officer we take care. It is not that. It is due diligence. It [the case] involves special circumstances and because of that we need to be able to allow for this matter to progress in order to protect the integrity of the investigation.”
Part of the investigation and special circumstances, ACP Henry said, involved seeking professional assistance in the interviewing of the alleged victim. The police have also sort a medical examination.
The police’s appeal to the public to let the investigation take its course has seemingly fallen on death ears. There have been pronouncements on the incident by human rights activists, women’s rights activists and members of the clergy.
Commenting on the incident Father Linus Clovis, director of the family life for the Archdiocese of Castries said this was a wake-up call.
“I want to express my sadness about this incident,” said Clovis while expressing sympathies to the family and community.
“This is a warning to our country that we have sexual predators in the country and we have not been addressing this issue seriously. We have had women being raped but now when our boys are being targeted it shows how far down the road we have gone,” said Father Clovis.
The priest went on to speak of other ills that he felt St Lucia suffered from which included pornography and the carnal nature of Carnival.
“There we see exhibitions of lewdness and vulgarity . . . we really do need to address ourselves,” he said.
The latest incident also reminded St Lucians of the case of a police officer accused of sexually assaulting a young boy left in his care at the Marchand Police Station.
On Friday, police confirmed that the police officer involved in the Canaries incident was charged with kidnapping, as was another man.
There have been no charges of a sexual nature and police are continuing investigations.

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