Police Clear Roberts
By Candia Dames
Attorney General Alfred Sears confirmed on Thursday that police have recommended that Minister of Works and Utilities Bradley Roberts not be charged in relation to the rape claim made against him on December 5.
“On Tuesday I received a recommendation from the Commissioner of Police that based on their collection of evidence and their assessment of the evidence in all of the circumstances that Mr. Roberts should not be charged,” the attorney general said.
He continued, “Upon receipt of the evidence and the recommendation from the commissioner of police [the director of public prosecutions and the deputy director of public prosecutions] are reviewing the evidence along with the recommendation of the commissioner. In due course they will make a recommendation to me whether the recommendation of the commissioner will be confirmed or otherwise.”
Minister Sears, who spoke with reporters during an event at the College of The Bahamas, was also asked whether he could remain impartial in this matter.
He said, “As attorney general I have a constitutional obligation. The constitution guarantees me independence as attorney general and I begin with the very simple proposition that no person is above the law and that guided by the technical experts in the Office of the Attorney General, we will review the evidence in a dispassionate manner and in light of all of the circumstances a decision will be made.”
If no charge is brought against the Minister, the attorney of the alleged victim plans to file an affidavit, asking a magistrate to hear the case in any event.
But Wallace Rolle told the Bahama Journal on Thursday that he is prepared to wait a few days to allow officials in the AG’s Office to carry out their review.
He said he was disappointed to learn of the attorney general’s confirmation.
“Certainly that won’t deter my client and that won’t deter me,” he said. “I still believe that if the professionals in the AG’s Office who would have an opportunity to look at the file don’t want to press charges, we still have the option of going by way of private prosecution.”
Sources in government also indicated that the Prime Minister was doing “the best thing” by also taking a wait and see attitude and would only be prepared to ask Minister Roberts to step down if he is charged in connection with the matter.
The public debate surrounding the matter, meanwhile, continued to swirl on Thursday.
In grocery stores, in the halls of workplaces (perhaps even around the water coolers), on the streets, and on radio Love 97’s “Issues of The Day” with Jeff Lloyd, the talk remained on the allegation and whether the Minister should step down.
The views, as one would imagine, were varied with some callers suggesting that an allegation is not enough for the Minister to resign; and others insisting that his resignation would be in order.
Not surprisingly, it was the same view expressed by the Free National Movement in a new statement.
The Official Opposition, in a release separate from what had been issued on Wednesday by the FNM Action Group, said the Bahamian people will not be well served having a minister who is unable to give fully of his time and good judgment to the affairs of the state.
“If it should run its course we have no doubt that Mr. Roberts will receive a fair trial in our courts and his accuser a fair hearing,” said the statement, which was sent by party chairman, Carl Bethel.
“Until the process is concluded, we make no judgment about his guilt or innocence and we urge the Bahamian people to do likewise.”
He made it clear that it is not the party’s belief that a Minister of Government should vacate his office because any frivolous allegation is made against him.
“However, in the present case the allegation against Mr. Roberts is by no means frivolous,” the statement said. “Neither does it appear that it has been frivolously made.”
He also said a “rotten” example is being set by authorities in this case.
“Whatever procedure you use for Jack, you must use for Jill,” said Mr. Bethel, who was apparently unconvinced by the assurance given a day earlier by the police commissioner that the case in question was treated the way any similar matter is treated.
Speaking to the Bahama Journal on Thursday, Mr. Bethel, a former attorney general, said he was very surprised that the matter has been forwarded to the Attorney General’s Office.
“The discretion to bring a prosecution has traditionally been given over to the commissioner of police for many, many years,” he said. “So I’m surprised that the commissioner of police would have forwarded a file like this under these circumstances to the Attorney General’s Office.”
But Commissioner Farquharson has stressed that forwarding the file to the AG’s Office was nothing unusual and he assured on Wednesday that there is only one standard of law in The Bahamas despite the perception that some people may have.