St. Croix man gets 40 years for repeated sexual assault of 2 teenage girls
Published: August 29, 2013
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ST. CROIX - On July 17, 2007, Gibson Charles was convicted by a V.I. Superior Court jury on rape and related charges.
Six years later, his counsel and mother made pleas for leniency, saying he is mentally ill as he was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
Charles appeared before V.I. Superior Court Presiding Judge Darryl Donohue Sr. on Wednesday to be sentenced for convictions of multiple aggravated rape, unlawful sexual contact, child abuse and sodomy charges for having sex with two teenage girls between 1999 and 2005.
Charles, 45, formerly of Paradise Mills housing community, has been in detention at Golden Grove since his 2005 arrest.
The charges stemmed from two separate reports made to police during the summer of 2005 reporting that Charles had been sexually assaulting the girls since they both were 9 years old. Charles was arrested in May 2005 on the charges relating to the 15-year-old girl and arrested a second time that August, while still in custody at Golden Grove Adult Correctional Facility, on the charges of raping the 14-year-old girl.
During the sentencing hearing, defense attorney Martial Webster told the court that a review of Charles' medical records shows a long history of mental illness and a number of evaluations that have found him to be in need of treatment by a clinical psychologist.
"There is mental illness in his family, and the reports are telling of who he is," he said. "Even as a child, he has heard voices in his head, and to this day he is still being treated."
Webster said he knows his client is looking at a very serious prison sentence and he asked for consideration that Charles' mental illness plays a part in his criminal conduct.
Charles' mother, Mary Charles, made a passionate plea on behalf of her son, saying that he has struggled with mental illness and physical ailments since his birth and was placed in modified instruction classes and referred for mental health evaluations and treatments as he grew up.
Mary Charles said her son was abused by her husband and has suffered enough. She asked for leniency from the court to allow him to go back to his native St. Lucia as she retires.
"His head isn't good," she said. "I beg you to have mercy on him."
Gibson Charles, in addressing the court still maintained his innocence.
"I want to say that I am sorry for what happened to those girls, but I had nothing to do with it," he said. "They were brainwashed to turn against me and now I am here, can't see my children."
Webster asked the court to hand down the minimum sentence on each charge and order help for Gibson Charles.
"A sentence that considers everything including his mental state will be considered a just one." Webster said.
Assistant Attorney General Melissa Ortiz, who prosecuted the case with Assistant Attorney General Charlotte Poole Davis, said this was one of the worst cases of rape and child abuse that she had ever seen.
Ortiz said the girls already have received a life sentence from Gibson Charles because the memories of the trauma never goes away. She asked to court not to consider the mental health reports because Gibson Charles was a functioning adult and knew right from wrong. She asked for a sentence for 80 years in prison.
Before imposing sentence, Donohue said the case is one that has been troubling and Charles had his day in court and was found guilty.
"This was a case where you set upon a course to destroy two lives and your belief that you were the adult and had the upper hand in the situation," he said. "You are certainly entitled to maintain your innocence, but the trial and the jury says different."
Donohue said he acknowledged the concerns of Mary Charles about her son's mental illness but would not accept them as the cause that he preyed on the girls.
Donohue sentenced Charles to 20 years in prison in connection with the charges associated with each of the girls and gave him credit for the eight years he has already spent in prison.
V.I. Police Detective Naomi Joseph, who investigated the reports and made the arrests in 2005, said the sentencing day was a long time coming. She said the experience was a nightmare for the victims, and they kept their faith in the justice system to get them closure.
"They still have a long road ahead, but this will help to make that burden lighter," Joseph said.
- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email email@example.com.