Trinidad Judge Orders Man Who Fathered Three Children With Underage Girl To Register As Sex Offender

(CMC)— A High Court judge Wednesday ordered that 37-year-old, Everton Joseph become the first person to be registered as a sex offender in Trinidad and Tobago, after he was convicted of six counts of having sex with a child under the age of 14.

Justice Hayden St Clair-Douglas ordered that Joseph will have to register at the police station in his district seven days after he serves a nine-year prison term. His name will remain on the register for 10 years and he must report annually.

The judge made the ruling virtually on Wednesday. Joseph had been convicted by a jury in February.

“The law is clear. Underage females are off limits,” the judge said during the sentencing, warning that the punishment would be severe and no man who engages in such acts can use the defence that the child was “precocious” or “she look for it.”

The judge said that even while acknowledging that the victim in this incident was not just willing but an enthusiastic participant; she was 12 years old the first time they had sex, and Joseph, who was 24, ought to have known better, done better and turned away.

“A 24-year-old man should have recognised he was dealing with a child, a precocious child, and should have spurned her attentions. The law protects young precocious girls from themselves. You were older and supposed to know better,” Justice St Clair-Douglas said.

The court was told that Joseph and the girl had sex between February and June 2009. She was 12 the first time, and she became pregnant. She dropped out of school in form one and had a daughter. She returned to school and progressed to form two but became pregnant again and dropped out for good.

In her victim impact statement, which the judge read out as he began his sentencing, the girl said, “I never completed school as a result of having my kids at a young age. I had my daughter at the age of 13. I was then a form one student, after giving birth went back to school, advanced to form two, (and) got pregnant again with my son. I was 14. I never returned after having my son.”

Justice St Clair-Douglas said Joseph had ruined the girl’s life, noting “these are not the words of a young female in some isolated plantation in a rural Trinidad in the 1940s. This is Trinidad in a residential urban community in the 21st century. This is unacceptable.”

Joseph is the father of his victim’s three children – the last of whom she had when she was 18 – and owes TT$39,600 in maintenance payments for them.

“It is clear he does not regard his responsibility to his children as a priority,” the judge said , adding that the laying of charges in 2009 did not deter Joseph, who continued to have sex with the girl even after he was told she was pregnant and was underage.

In his evidence, Joseph said he and the young girl were members of the same steelband and that he admired her passion for music. The judge said the admiration transformed into a physical attraction.

Joseph said he never questioned the girl’s age. She was also not “put out” when he suggested they have sex the first time, even asking for it to take place and inviting him to her room when she was home alone on another occasion.

The judge said the fact that the other sexual encounter was initiated by the girl did not assist Joseph, since the law was clear that young girls were off-limits.

“Older men are supposed to know better and turn away regardless of temptation. It is necessary for the court to reaffirm this in case there was any doubt that it would attract the most severe punishment. An older man is supposed to know better. He must walk away,” the judge said.

Justice St Clair-Douglas said a 14-year-old was not equipped, either physically or financially, to become a mother. He said he has never heard a young girl say it was her life’s ambition to have a child at the age of 12, another by 14 and three by the time she became an adult.

Joseph received a one-year reduction for his previous good character, another for the time he has spent in pre-trial custody, and one because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In ordering Joseph’s name, photograph and biographical details put on the sex offenders’ registry, the judge said a mental health assessment had to be requested by the court.

The report suggested that Joseph was aware of the nature and consequences of his convictions, showed no signs of psychological illness or disorders, and showed no impulse to or exhibited interest in having sex with minors.

“He did not meet the diagnostic criteria for paedophilia,” the judge said, adding that the report also suggested there was no risk of his re-offending, that he was a sexual deviant or posed a risk to his victim.