A 47-year-old man accused of raping a 15-year-old girl (name withheld) at the Embassy Enclave of Mamba Point, in Monrovia, last Monday appeared at the Temple of Justice, where he was later remanded at the Monrovia Central Prison.
Sean Tolbert was arrested on April 27, based on a complaint filed by a lady believed to be the mother of the victim, together with a medical report from the Star of the Sea Hospital, which established that the victim had been sexually abused, of which the Women and Children’s Protection Section (WCPS) of the Liberia National Police (LNP) charged suspect Tolbert with statutory rape.
After the brief hearing, Magistrate Kennedy Peabody remanded defendant Tolbert at the Monrovia Central Prison where he will await trial.
Defendant Tolbert has persistently denied the allegation. But according to police charge sheet, in early March the victim went to the defendant’s house and he offered her French fries and chocolate. After eating, she reportedly felt dizzy and later fell asleep in the defendant’s room. The defendant allegedly took advantage of the situation to rape her.
The police said during preliminary investigations with witnesses, it was established that the victim went to the defendant’s home on several occasions and at sometimes with some of her friends.
“She was also accompanied by the defendant’s security officer, identified as Augustine Wleh, along with a description of the crime scene in the defendant’s room, where the probe discovered a flat screen video, black fan and white air-conditioned, as described by the victim, along with the medical report from Star of the Sea Hospital, which was enough to convince police that defendant Tolbert committed the offense and should be charged with statutory rape,” the charge sheet alleged.
“The evidence is consistent with the allegation levied against defendant Tolbert by the victim, witnesses’ testimonies, physical evidence and a photograph of the crime scene, along with a photo of the victim after the incident; the investigation has resolved to charge the defendant with statutory rape,” the police further said.
There has been a lot of concern that those accused of rape do not get urgent attention. And because the crime is not bailable, over 500 of such cases are pending to be prosecuted, and many of the accused persons have spent more than a year in detention.
Last week at the celebration of the Africa Pretrial Detention Day, Cllr. Boakai N. Kanneh, chairman of the Liberia Law Reform Commission, accused the Ministry of Justice (MoJ)and the Supreme Court of keeping detainees in detention more than the law allows and therefore “grossly violating their human rights.”
At the panel presentation, another lawyer, Dempster Brown, blamed the MoJ and noted that, “The ministry will allow people to remain in jail, even if there was no evidence to prosecute their case.”
The two lawyers noted that the law provides that if a person is taken to court, the court should take 10 days to collect evidence from the complainant and proceed immediately with the case, which is overlooked by judges and the MoJ.
Cllr. Ernestine Morgan Awar, assistant court administrator of the Supreme Court, did not respond to the statements by the two counselors.
But Solicitor General-designate Daku Mulbah blamed the situation on judges that are presiding over criminal courts throughout the country. “Even during trial, if any of the parties files a motion the judges would stop the case and take days before they can come out with a decision.
“Meanwhile, the accused would still be in jail while the case is delayed,” Mulbah indicated, adding, “you cannot blame the ministry for the pretrial detention, but the judges as well; and so there is a need to review the laws on the book.”