Supreme Court finds flaws in sentence for child rapist


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ST. THOMAS - A man who raped two young girls, impregnating one of them at the age of 13, is returning to V.I. Superior Court to have his sentence revisited after the V.I. Supreme Court found that the initial sentence was flawed.

The re-sentencing could mean a difference of 40 years, according to a Supreme Court opinion.

In September last year, Gibson Charles received a sentence of 20 years of incarceration for the first-degree aggravated rape of one girl, referred to as X.P.; 20 years for the second-degree aggravated rape of X.P.; 20 years for a second count of second-degree aggravated rape of X.P.; and 20 years for the first-degree aggravated rape of another girl, referred to as A.C.

"The Superior Court did not specify whether the two counts for second-degree aggravated rape of X.P. should run concurrent or consecutive with any other counts," stated the opinion, which the high court released Friday.

In addressing the sentence a second time, the Superior Court will need to ensure that Charles is not punished twice for an offense rising out of a single act, according to the opinion, meaning it may need to establish that certain sentences run concurrently, or at the same time.

"This plain error is one which seriously affects Charles' substantial rights and also the integrity and public reputation of judicial proceedings," wrote Supreme Court Chief Justice Rhys Hodge, who authored the opinion.

Hodge also chastised the lower court for addressing Charles as "Charles Gibson" in one of the court documents.

The Supreme Court opinion denied Charles' other appeals.

Charles claimed that the Superior Court judge who conducted his trial in July 2007 was biased and tried to sway the jury by giving them the impression that Charles was guilty.

Charles also argued that the evidence against him was insufficient and that he was not properly informed of his initial charges, all of which the jury found him guilty of except for third-degree assault.

The six-day trial included the two girls' testimonies, along with that of neighbors who spotted Charles inappropriately touching the girls.

The doctor who performed an abortion on X.P. also testified, stating that, at the time, the doctor was told that a boy from school impregnated the girl, according to the opinion.

X.P. later admitted that Charles fabricated the story, which X.P.'s mother, who was familiar with Charles, believed. The girl also said that Charles once beat her face so badly that she could not smile for a month, the opinion stated. The beating occurred immediately after Charles found out that X.P. had a boyfriend at school, according to court documents.

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

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