Criminal Court ‘E’ at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia on Wednesday sentenced a 47 year-old man to 15 years in prison for raping a 14 year-old girl (name withheld) on Lynch Street in Monrovia.
Augustine Wiehn was 45 when he raped his victim, who was by then 14, in June 2014.
Before sentencing Wiehn on Wednesday, Judge Ceaineh Clinton Johnson declared that the prosecutions’ evidences, both oral and documentary, including the victim’s, supported the jury’s unanimous guilty verdict entered earlier against the defendant.
The jury had earlier found Wiehn guilty of the commission of the crime statutory rape for which the government charged him.
Though the crime qualifies the defendant for life imprisonment, Judge Johnson chose to send the convict to 15 years in jail, of which he has served two years.
Minutes after Johnson’s judgment, a female prosecutor who spoke with judicial reporters explained that prosecuting people accused of rape was very much challenging.
Attorney Roseta Neese Baikpeh, one of the lead lawyers of the Sexual Gender Base Unit (SGBU) at the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), said some of the challenges were getting family members to testify against their accused relatives “because the matter was characterized by lots of traumatized occurrences.”
“The defendant was like a father to the victim, because she (victim) lived with Wiehn, who was the husband to the victim’s aunt, Eliza Wiehn,” the female lawyer explained.
To get Eliza to testify against her husband was “very difficult, knowing it meant that she was destroying their marriage. But we managed to convince her to testify during the case.” Atty. Baikpeh praised Eliza for mustering the courage to testify against her husband.
According to her, after the defendant had sexually abused the victim, he whipped her bitterly for crying for help during the ordeal.
One of their housemates, who heard the victim’s screams and went to rescue her, lost his tooth when the defendant head-butted his mouth.
“It was their housemate who reported the matter to the police before the defendant was arrested and subsequently indicted with statutory rape,” Atty. Baikpeh said.
“We have about 300 cases on trial docket for rape awaiting trial, but with one court assigned with a judge it’s difficult to fight against rape. This is one of the challenges we are facing to tackle rape-related matters,” she said.
“To succeed, the government has to establish a fast track court, especially for those accused of rape, because 98 percent of these cases have gone through pre-trial conferences, but for the limitation of the court, we cannot proceed with their speedy hearing,” said Baikpeh.