Bahamas Police Chief “Passes Buck”
Commissioner of Police Paul Farquharson was called upon three times during a press conference on Wednesday to explain why police took three weeks to question Minister of Works and Utilities Bradley Roberts in connection with the rape claim made against him.
Mr. Farquharson said police did not want to act prematurely and in some instances have waited up to six months to question persons accused in similar matters. The Minister said in a recent statement that he went to the police “voluntarily.”
The police commissioner also declined to answer another pressing question as members of the media pressed him on whether there was enough evidence to charge the Cabinet Minister with a crime.
Mr. Farquharson instead suggested that reporters contact the AG’s Office for an answer to that question, which was perhaps the most pressing one of the day.
During the press conference at police headquarters on East Street, he also insisted that the police did not move too slowly in the matter despite the perception that some members of the public may have.
“Remember that once a complaint is laid against any citizen of The Bahamas by another citizen the police must conduct lines of inquiries in order to prove that allegation,” he said. “It is only at certain stages of the investigation will you pick up or invite or arrest a suspect in order to put the questions of that inquiry to that particular suspect.”
The police commissioner also praised his detectives for concluding the investigation in “record time”, noting that the woman reported the allegation on December 5.
“There are several other cases that are similar that have come before the police that have taken a longer time,” he said. “There are some that may have taken a shorter time, but this one took four weeks.”
But his statements were not enough to convince Wallace Rolle, the alleged victim’s attorney, that police handled the matter efficiently.
Mr. Rolle asked Mr. Farquharson to explain why Minister Roberts was not questioned sooner. But the police commissioner indicated that it was inappropriate for him to ask the question in that setting and declined to give an answer.
Following the press conference, Mr. Rolle said the event was “a complete waste of time.”
“The commissioner passed the buck,” he charged. “I don’t think he answered any question. I don’t think we’re any closer today than we were yesterday. He doesn’t want to make a decision. He wants somebody else to make the decision. A month later, this lady who made a complaint to the police is no closer to getting before the court and I think that is unfortunate.”
During the press conference, Mr. Farquharson assured that there was no political interference in the investigation and he said no one is above the law.
“This allegation, like every other serious allegation, placed the onerous task on the police of conducting an objective, transparent and a thorough investigation into the matter reported,” he said.
Mr. Farquharson was asked whether he was concerned about the perception that some people may have that the Minister’s case is receiving special treatment. He assured that it was not and explained why he felt it necessary to call a press conference in relation to this rape claim as opposed to any other rape claim.
“I think it’s very clear to everyone that this matter has drawn great public debate and because of the individual who is involved, who occupies a very high profile office, the public interest certainly goes above everything else and I thought from where I sit, I owe [it to] the citizens of this country to explain how that investigation took place,” he said.
“This particular incident of the allegation that is laid before us is one that created great public concern and I felt as commissioner that I had a responsibility to forward the results of this investigation to the AG’s Office.
“We have forwarded many matters to the AG’s Office before. This is not the first rape incident that has been forwarded to the AG’s Office for further considerations or direction. This is only one of many so there is nothing unusual about this particular case.”
Director of Public Prosecutions Bernard Turner, who spoke to the Bahama Journal from his office on Wednesday, also pointed out that it is not unusual for the police to send a file of this nature to the AG’s office.
When asked how long it will take for authorities there to make a determination on the matter, he said, “We want to consider it properly. I expect that we will make a determination in due course.”
Like the commissioner of police, he declined to say whether the police have made a recommendation on whether there is sufficient evidence for the Minister to be charged.
At the press conference on Wednesday, Chief Superintendent of Police Marvin Dames told reporters that police find themselves in a “very, very unique situation.”
“Because we have to appreciate and respect due process and the rights of individuals, we cannot just carelessly reveal aspects of the investigation to the press and members of the public as we receive it,” Mr. Dames said.
“We only release what we feel is fair to release and we have never done an investigation in the press and that is critical. We have not done so because we respect the rights of both parties.”
His statement was an obvious reference to a question asked by a reporter regarding whether Minister Roberts has admitted to having sexual relations with the woman who made the claim against him.
In a recent interview with the Bahama Journal, the Minister said only that he knows the woman in question.