St. Croix man pleads guilty to sexually assaulting 12-year-old girl


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ST. CROIX - A 69-year-old man arrested almost two years ago on charges that he sexually assaulted a 12-year-old girl appeared in V.I. Superior Court on Wednesday and pleaded guilty to one of the charges against him.

Alixford Sylvester of East Street, Christiansted, was arrested in September 2012 on charges of first-degree aggravated rape, first-degree unlawful sexual contact and child abuse in connection with a sexual assault that police said occurred several times since December 2011.

Sylvester had pleaded not guilty and had requested a speedy jury trial, until Wednesday when he accepted a plea offer from the prosecutors.

According to the plea agreement read into the record, Sylvester agreed to plead guilty to the single count of first-degree unlawful sexual contact. In exchange, prosecutors agreed to dismiss the remaining charges against him with prejudice.

As part of the plea agreement, Sylvester must agree to have no contact with the girl who reported the assault and also have no unsupervised contact with any other child younger than 18.

Once he is released from prison, Sylvester will be required to register as a sex offender and will be subject to deportation to his native Dominica, because he is not a naturalized citizen and is convicted of a felony.

According to the police report by V.I. Police Detective Vanessa Richardson, the girl told the assistant principal at her school that a man had been harassing her as she walked to school each day.

She said she did not know the man, but that it made her feel uncomfortable.

Richardson said the school notified police and said school officials were concerned because a faculty member noticed that while the girl's siblings walked to school, she was dropped off by a man in a truck on several occasions.

While the girl was being interviewed by police, she was asked whether anyone had ever sexually assaulted her, and she reported that Sylvester, who is known to her family, had raped her on several occasions, according to Richardson.

The girl told police that she had visited Sylvester on numerous occasions and in December, her mother allowed a sleepover visit, and during the visit, Sylvester came into the bedroom where she was sleeping and fondled her, then proceeded to have intercourse with her.

The girl said when Sylvester came to get her for a second sleepover, she told her mother that she did not want to go with him, but she did not tell her why. The girl said her mother made her go, and Sylvester raped her again, according to the police report.

When picked up for questioning, Sylvester refused to make a statement to police.

Sylvester faced spending the rest of his life in prison if he was found guilty on the rape charge alone and up to an additional 35 years in prison on the other two charges.

Under the plea agreement on the unlawful sexual contact charge, he faces up to 15 years in prison.

Sylvester remained jailed since his arrest, unable to post bail, which had been set at $150,000. Sentencing has been scheduled for 10 a.m. July 25.

- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email fstokes@dailynews.vi.

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