Any sex related trial has dual victims: the complainant and the defendant. Sadly the complainant usually must also suffer a private hell quite removed from the public exposure of matters generally considered absolutely private. Usually the defendant is judged guilty in the court of public opinion upon arrest. But perhaps the worst aspect of justice in St Lucia is that though the accused may have been declared innocent by a judge and jury, rumours of his guilt will likely follow him for the rest of his life.
On Wednesday June 29 Dr Syls Wilson walked into the Criminal High Court a rape suspect. He left a vindicated man. Attorneys Mark Maragh and Lorne Theophilus had represented Wilson when the matter first arose in 2006. Speaking to the STAR following the verdict, Maragh said: “Our client is in a state of mixed emotions. He is relieved that this ordeal is finally over after five years and that this matter is finally behind him and he can move on with his life. On the other hand, he is angry that his good name has been sullied all over the media and in the public arena.”
Dr Syls Wilson was arrested and charged on May 22, 2006 for allegedly raping a 16-year-old girl. The incident was said to have occurred a couple of weeks prior, on May 11 at his office.
Shortly after his arrest, he appeared before a magistrate and pleaded not guilty to the charge. Bail was granted in the sum of EC$3000, with the stipulation that he pay an additional EC$3000 with suitable surety, surrender all his traveling documents and his National Identification Card.
The matter went through a Preliminary Inquiry before then senior magistrate Florita Nicholas. The case suffered several hindrances at the PI stage. The prosecution sought several adjournments for various reasons, including, as Maragh put it, “the absence of the virtual complainant.” The inquiry eventually concluded on July 30, 2008. Wilson was committed for trial in the high court. A no-case submission was made by his attorneys on the basis that the act of rape as alleged by the complainant was impossible in light of her admissions under cross-examination, the failure of the medical report to indicate any recent sexual activity or forced sexual intercourse and the video tape evidence which showed that the complainant taken just ten minutes from entry to exit of the building housing Wilson’s office. The tape, his attorneys argued, contradicted her assertions that the incident lasted about thirty minutes.
Maragh and Theophilus did not succeed with their application and the court proceeded to set a date for his trial.
The matter was set for trial on Tuesday June 28, 2011 and Maragh along with George Charlemagne appeared for the defendant. Wilson was present as well as the complaintant and other prosecution witnesses. The next day Justice Kenneth Benjamin empanelled a jury to hear the matter. The complainant was summoned but failed to appear. The prosecution at that stage offered no evidence. Following an application for dismissal by Wilson’s attorneys the judge directed the jury to return a not guilty verdict.
Five years of hell had ended for Wilson. At any rate, officially!