Conviction indignation
American man found guilty of having sex with 12-y-o girl claims racism, corruption at play

Robert Benoit, the Caucasian American who was on Wednesday convicted in the St James Circuit Court for having intercourse with a 12-year-old St James girl after she was handed over to him by her father for transactional sex, with a bottle of Magnum to seal the deal has charged that "corruption" and racism had a part in his verdict.

The 59-year-old Benoit was unanimously declared guilty by a jury comprising five men and two women following their deliberations.

Sources told the Jamaica Observer that the man, upon hearing the verdict, stood dumbfounded and open-mouthed. When he regained his composure, Benoit reportedly declared, "It's because I'm white" before going on to sneer, "corruption".

According to the evidence unveiled in the matter, the incident took place in December 2020, two days before Christmas.

According to Benoit, who is a regular visitor to the island, he was in the community to give care packages to people there. The girl's mother said in her evidence that she was responsible for taking care of Benoit's rented home in the area and so would go there to cook and clean for him. She, however, denied knowing what transpired between him and her child.

According to prosecutors, on the night of December 23, Benoit visited the family's home. According to the child, she was instructed by her father to spend the night with the then 57-year-old man and "bring back the money". She said right after that statement was made to her, Benoit bought her father a bottle of Magnum and left with her.

The young girl said that night while she was at his house, she was awakened from sleep by Benoit who was atop her. She said the man had intercourse with her.

The following morning police, acting on information, showed up at the residence in search of Benoit. When he finally emerged from the dwelling the young girl told the police that he had been inside "trying to hide" her.

When asked if she was in a relationship with him, she remained silent, but when asked if they had had sex, she nodded her head, at which point Benoit exclaimed "Oh God, man" and started "sweating profusely".

He was subsequently arrested and charged for sex with a person under 16. He is to be sentenced on May 5 this year. Probation after-care officers will be visiting the community to interview residents to produce the social enquiry report (SER) ordered by the court. An SER is an essential tool to aid the court in arriving at sentencing decisions.

The child's father, the Observer has learnt, was hauled before the Family Court to answer to child abuse charges.

The now 14-year-old child is in the custody of the State.

The Observer was told that she has a younger female sibling. That child, however, remains with the family.

BY ALICIA DUNKLEY-WILLIS Senior staff reporter

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