Liberia: Grand Bassa Teacher Arrested for Raping Minor

… While in Maryland County, a man, 34, has been sent to 3 years imprisonment for sodomizing 12-year-old boy

An elementary classroom teacher in Grand Bassa County has been arrested and is facing several felony charges after he allegedly raped a 12-year-old female student.

Lawranso Clark, who is accused of raping the minor, faces possible charges of sexual intercourse without consent, sexual assault, sexual abuse of children, and indecent exposure and rape of a minor if police in the county find that he actual committed the crime at the end of their investigation, which still ongoing.

It is alleged that Clark, preyed on his 12-year-old victim by asking her to walk him home for something — there he took advantage and sexually abused the third grader. Clark’s house is not too far from the school campus. He initially told police in Grand Bassa that he did not commit the crime and that he is innocent.

Police sources however disclosed that he later admitted having sexual intercourse with the girl after medical report revealed that she was tampered with. He is currently jailed at the Fairgrounds Police Station in Buchanan, pending the police's final investigative report.

In Liberia, the age of consent in Liberia is 18 years old — the minimum age at which an individual is considered legally old enough to consent to participation in sexual activity. Any Individuals engaged in sexual activity with persons below the age of 18 may be prosecuted for statutory rape, which is a second-degree felony, a non-bailable and carries a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment.

If Clark is charged by the police, his action would be just one of the many cases in which teachers use their power and position to abuse minors sexually instead of protecting them. 

Violence against children and adolescents, especially girls, is rampant, including rape, abuse, harassment, and exploitation — UNICEF reports.  The UN agency also noted that in 2015, 89 percent of reported rape survivors were children, with 39 percent 12 years or younger — saying sexual harassment in schools in the form of ‘sex for grades’ and ‘sex for school fees’ is common.

About four months ago, Anthony Mulbah, a math teacher, at the Grace Heritage International School System on GSA Road, Paynesville, was arrested and forwarded to corut for raping his 14-year-old studentafter confessing to having “sexual intercourse” with the student. 

Mulbah’s alleged raping of Beatrice came to light when her guardian discovered that she was pregnant — a pregnancy he denied.  When Mulbah got informed about the pregnancy, Beatrice said he denied it and claimed that she was lying. 

As for the incident involving the teacher in Grand Bassa County, a medical report from the Buchanan Government Hospital has confirmed that the minor was penetrated and tampered with, leaving the police to still question before making a final determination to forward him to a court or not, based on the evidence gathered.

The case was reported after the child’s parent noticed some behavioral changes in their 12-year-old daughter when she returned home after the encounter with Clark.

They alerted the police immediately, which then rushed the third grader to the Buchanan Government Hospital for medical examination to confirm whether penetration had taken place.

Narrating the ordeal, the victim’s parent said that their daughter came from school, showing signs of weakness and could not stand by herself. When questioned, she told them that Clark had sexual intercourse with her after he asked her to follow him to his house to get something.

“The Vice Principal, Morris David, sent for teacher Lawranso Clark and, when he came, he admitted to having sexual affair with my daughter about two weeks ago. Clark wanted us to compromise the case but I said no, and I contacted the police and they arrested him,” the girl’s parent said. 

In Maryland County, the 4th Judicial Circuit Court has sentenced Edwin Knight, 34, to prison for three years  for sodomizing the 12-year-old boy.

Knight’s sentencing came after being found guilty of the crime by the case jurors. His sentence also includes the nearly one year he has spent behind bars at the River Gee Central Prison. He was jailed outside of Maryland due to damage done to the Harper Central Prison after it was vandalized in March 2021.

“Wherefore and in view of the above mentioned facts and circumstances, the defendant, having pleaded guilty to the indictment, is judged guilty and convicted of the crime, Involuntary Sodomy, as charged by the state Section 50.9 of the penal code of Liberia,” Judge Nelson Tokpa ruled.

“Except as otherwise expressly provided, and subject to the limitation contained and individual who has been convicted of an offense may be sentenced to pay a fine which does not exceed: (a) For a felony of a first or second degree, the commission which has resulted in gain for the defendant, an amount double the gain realized by the defendant, but if such crime has not resulted in gain for the defendant, only sentence of imprisonment without a fine may be imposed.”

Judge Tokpa added that since the crime resulted in no gain for the defendant, he was being sentenced to serve the period of three (consecutive years including the time he has spent in prison to common jail “within the territorial confines of the Republic of Liberia, less the time the defendant was committed to prison by this court up to the date and time of court’s final judgment.”

Knight  was arrested in September 2021 and charged with “aggravated involuntary sodomy” a second degree felony under the penal code of Liberia. 

In Liberia, “voluntary sodomy” is a misdemeanor with a penalty of up to one year imprisonment.

The penalties for violating the prohibition of voluntary sodomy are specified in Chapter 50 of the Penal Code. Sections 50.7 and 50.9 provide that a person convicted of a misdemeanor of the first degree, such as voluntary sodomy, may be sentenced either “to a definite term of imprisonment to be fixed by the court at no more than one year,” or to a fine of up to L$1,000. And repeated offenders can be subjected to even more onerous penalties.”