Former Bible school teacher gets 22 years for child rape


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ST. THOMAS - A former Bible school teacher who forced an 8-year-old girl to perform oral sex on him in his classroom in 2011 was sentenced Thursday in V.I. Superior Court to 22 years in prison.

Wendell Rawlins, 29, was convicted in October of aggravated first-degree rape and child abuse. The trial was Rawlins' second; the first ended in a deadlocked jury in April 2012.

Under V.I. Code, Rawlins will have no chance at parole during the first 15 years of his imprisonment. The V.I. Attorney General's Office had asked for a steeper sentence of 45 years of imprisonment for the rape charge, and 10 years to be served consecutively for the child abuse charge.

Judge Adam Christian ordered that Rawlins also must submit to a psychiatric evaluation and participate in psychosocial counseling. When he is released from that sentence, he is to register as a sex offender and report as directed.

Rawlins, who worked at Bethel Baptist Day School, was the victim's teacher.

In court documents, V.I. Police Detective Albion George stated that on Feb. 22, 2011, the girl had been in class when Rawlins disciplined her twice, first by having her stand with a book in her hand because she forgot to bring her reading book to class.

The second time, he pushed her under her desk, according to the affidavit.

Rawlins then had three male students bring the girl to Rawlins' desk, according to the affidavit.

Then Rawlins had the other students go play in the classroom, and told the girl to go underneath his desk, where he was sitting and the other students could not see what was going on at his desk, George wrote.

Rawlins unzipped his zipper, pulled her head toward his genitals and told her to perform oral sex, according to George's affidavit.

"She stated that she did what she was told to do and it was gross," George wrote.

When the girl's aunt picked her up from school, the child told her what had happened, according to the affidavit.

The following day, the police interviewed several students, including one of the boys who brought the girl to Rawlins' desk, who told police that Rawlins asked him and another student to bring the girl to his desk because she was supposed to get punished, George wrote.

Another student recalled Rawlins tickling the girl after she was brought to his desk, and that she was sitting on his lap, according to the affidavit.

A third student said that Rawlins had beaten the girl with a ruler for not bringing her reading book and that the girl began crying. Another student also recalled the girl sitting on Rawlins' lap and him sometimes tickling her.

- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email jkane@dailynews.vi.

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