December 13, 2019
Still no response from DPP in relation to gang rape allegations

Sejilla McDowall, the acting director of public prosecutions (DPP) has failed to respond to numerous requests by SEARCHLIGHT for answers concerning the prosecution of individuals alleged to have been involved in the gang rape of school girls.

Three months ago, SEARCHLIGHT published an article about an incident that took place on the Leeward side of St Vincent, in which a teenage girl reported that in September 2018 she was gang raped at school by 10 boys from the secondary institution.

Reports of a similar incident occurring in November 2019 were also published in the December 3, 2019 edition of the newspaper.

SEARCHLIGHT understands that when police conclude investigations in cases like these involving school children, the files are sent to the DPP’s office for review so as to determine whether the DPP will go forward with prosecuting the accused.

In the case of the gang-rape which is said to have taken place more than one year ago, ASP Juliana Browne-Charles, the officer in charge of the Western Division (the division in which the school is located) said that the files had already been sent to the DPP for review. And parents of the alleged victim have expressed their dissatisfaction with the slowness of the process and are calling for justice to be served.

When SEARCHLIGHT contacted the DPP’s office last week, we were told that she was in a meeting and we should send, by email, specific questions that we wished to have answered.

The e-mail was sent and followed up with a call, in which we were told that the questions would be given to McDowall and a response would be sent by e-mail as well.

One week and at least five calls later, the DPP has yet to respond to our questions.

In the last call to the DPP’s office on Wednesday afternoon, SEARCHLIGHT was told that McDowall was unavailable for comment as she was busy preparing for the closing of the criminal assizes and she has not yet had a chance to look at the questions sent, and she does not know when she will be able respond.