A male karate instructor, arrested back in 2014 for the alleged rape of three boys, will continue to walk free unless victims come forward to assist the police with their investigations. Investigators close to the case are urging the parents of victims and the victims themselves to come forward and help end the decades-long run of this alleged paedophile predator.
The man was first arrested in 2004 under similar charges but the case was dismissed after the victims failed to testify against him in court.
The second matter against him was heard in January 2015 and is still currently “pending” as rape and sexual molestation is a bailable offence.
Guardian Media investigations found that a man with the same name was arrested and convicted of sex with a minor in the Ozarks, Alabama, back in 2003 but according to officials there, he disappeared. Guardian Media contacted the Sexual Offences Unit at the Dales County Sheriff office in Alabama last Thursday and was told that the man “absconded” after his conviction in 2003. He went off their radar at that time.
One year later, a karate instructor with the same name was arrested for sex with minors here in Trinidad but no one turned up to testify against him in court.
Documents received by Guardian Media show him earning a certificate in the “security field” by a Florida-based organisation called the Ronin Police Brotherhood in October 2010. Back in 1998, he completed a Reiki Healing course.
Those familiar with the man’s movements here in T&T and his penchant to move around remote areas speculate that he may have molested as many as 50 young boys since he began offering self-defence classes in 2004.
Locally, parents of two of the alleged victims were identified to Guardian Media but refused to speak about what their children went through. The two unrelated families cited the same reasons for keeping the molestation hush-hush - shame and embarrassment.
The main theme behind their collective silence is that they believe that their children were the only ones molested by someone they trusted. But silence and shame mean that this one man was able to move throughout South Trinidad posing as a self-defence teacher and using his position of trust to gain sexual access to young victims.
Self-defence instructor Paul Daniel-Nahous told Guardian Media that while he never interacted with the man, rumours and stories of his actions reverberated throughout the self-defence community for years.
“For a short time, I trained in a gym in Couva that he had recently left training people at by then. However, one of his colleagues and long-time friends still trained people there,” Nahous said.
“I asked him about the individual as accusations surfaced and I heard they trained together. He seemed reluctant to answer and upset over it, stating that he (the offender) was someone who ‘lost his way’.”
He said the same man who was alleged to be abusing his young students was once dismissed from another training school for “calling a boy up in front of the class and ordering and forcing him to remove his pants.”
“This was the first sickening instance I heard of and over the last decade, I would hear of him being arrested, sometimes charged, sometimes allegedly escaping charges through paying off families of the victims. Each time though it was the same MO, sexual assault/molestation, arrest when caught, release and move to another area where he is not known, usually more rural areas,” Nahous said.
“He’s also been giving himself titles and honorifics such as “Soke,” “professor,” “Dr,” when in fact he is no founder or senior of any real art, nor possesses any qualifications of high skill from any reputable master.”
He added: “What is frightening is that he is only one of many who go around, some with semi-legitimate qualifications even at times, who open schools and use them to scout for victims. I try to educate parents on martial arts and schools as there are a lot of misconceptions, especially in more rural areas.”
Singular cases such as these have resurrected questions about the unpopulated Sexual Offences Registry as it relates to repeat offenders.
Last Wednesday, police busted up an underage sex ring and found 19 girls between the ages of 15 and 19 held captive. Hours later, the Senate began its planned debate on the Sexual Offences Amendment Bill.
It was revealed then that the sexual offenders’ registry began 19 years ago and contained zero names despite the fact that between 2015 and 2018 there were over 2,000 reported cases of sexual assault on children between the ages of one and nine.
Mahabir-Wyatt: TTPS duty to register sex offenders
In response to questions from Guardian Media, human rights activist and former senator Diana Mahabir-Wyatt said the failure to implement the register over the past 19 years has contributed more to the current social ills than the public realises.
She said populating the offenders’ registry rests squarely with the Police Service but there are many gaps in the legislation.
“Setting up a new Register by law will not cure that, but we are hoping that a new approach to administration in the Police Service will do so,” she said.
She said a new board needs to be set up with sole responsibility for the Register.
“In the meantime, and in order to prevent this inaction and/or disinterest from going on for another couple of decades, we are proposing that a board of qualified assessors be set up made up of practical and experienced professionals to handle the Register,” she said.
Mahabir-Wyatt said the board would then be responsible for ensuring that perpetrators are correctly assessed and put in the appropriate categories.
“And that appropriate treatment be established and that access to the Register can be made through the board to those organisations that need to know,” she said.
“We are advocating a special sexual offences court which will include the assessment, examination of risk, rehabilitation through restorative justice programmes, which may include programmes including restitution etc such as programmes modelled by the excellent Children Court that opened up this year.” During last week’s debate, Al-Rawi suggested marking passports of the offenders but Mahabir-Wyatt does not think that is necessary.
“We know our culture and are aware of the danger of vigilante justice and of the danger of the innocent families of perpetrators being targeted, humiliated and isolated in communities, denial of the constitutional rights to privacy they have,” she said.
“Immigration may already have the information about high-risk offenders, as by law they will have to inform the board (if we ever get one) or the police when they travel abroad. This information will be automatically relayed to Interpol through the usual reciprocal channels. To put vigilante powers in the hands of any and every untrained immigration officer in every airport or seaport in the world is dangerous and a violation of human rights,” Mahabir-Wyatt said.
Stamp their passports
Caribbean Committee Against Sex Crimes chair and a director of the Organisation for Abused and Battered Individuals, attorney Jonathan Bhagan, sat in an NGO meeting with Mahabir-Wyatt last Friday but spoke with Guardian Media before that on the issue of the non-existent Registry.
“The AG’s statement did have significant statistics on the state of child sexual offences in Trinidad, it did not deal with research into reducing recidivism of sex offenders,” Bhagan said.
“I do, however, agree with the stamping of the passports of child sex offenders, as if they have the means they often travel to countries where sex with children is more easily accessible,” he said.
“This is a blow struck against the international child sex ring.”
Bhagan said as part of the Law Association membership, he submitted comments on the bill in 2018 regarding its lack of provision for rehabilitation for offenders and this did not make it into the 2019 draft.
During the debate, Senator Sophia Chote said she was against the marking the passports. Referring to this, Bhagan said, “Senator Chote took issue with the broad-brush approach of the public register, which I agree with. There are different crimes and different types of sex offenders. Not every sex offender is a high risk to the public and placing low-risk individuals next to high-risk ones on a public registry will dilute the effectiveness of the register,” he said.
“Furthermore, Senator Chote requested data from the existing sex offenders’ registry which I myself have requested via letters to the editor and to the TTPS but never received.
“I agree with Senator Chote that there must be an understanding of the balancing exercise the Parliament must do between human rights and the public interest. A bill like this can backfire and result in constitutional motions to strike it down as not being justifiable in a society that has respect for the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual.”
Guardian Media contacted Chote through her office on Tuesday but was told that she could not speak on the Sexual Offences Amendment Bill as it was still to be debated.