Michael Abrams, a “devoted Catholic” who is said to be in his early 50’s was given two life imprisonment sentences after he was found guilty of child rape at the High Court in Georgetown on Wednesday.
A 12-member mixed jury unanimously found him guilty on two counts of rape of a child under 16, who was said to be a female relative.
Justice Simone Morris-Ramlall who handed down the sentences admonished Abrams for the acts, telling him that “you say are a devoted Catholic; I hope you pray to God and ask forgiveness.”
The first count for which Abrams was found guilty occurred sometime between January 1 and 19, 2016, and the second count on January 19, 2016. Among the illegal acts he committed included sexual penetration with the young girl and anal penetration with the child on the other occasion.
A response from the victim, whose name was withheld in keeping with the Sexual Offences Act, was read out in court by Project Coordinator and Court Support, Kaiesha Perry. She stated that she met with the victim over a period of three weeks and was allowed to read her views.
“This situation makes me feel sad. I felt like the accused would try to hurt me,” Perry quoted. According to Perry’s testimony, the young girl also indicated that she also felt fearful that Abrams would come to her school and try to hurt her or the teacher to which she had confided in.
The girl, who is now 10 years old, further said that she realises that what the accused did to her was wrong and that she now knows it was not her fault.She further added that she hopes that the accused would not do what he had done to her or anyone else, ever again.
The case was heard over the last several days in the Sexual Offence Court. The jury came to their decision after some three hours of deliberations. After the verdict was handed down, Justice Morris-Ramlall enquired from the accused what he wanted to say.
He responded by saying that even though the jury “in their wisdom” found him guilty, he maintained statements from his testimony during court proceedings where he observed that he could not and did not commit the offence.
“That I will maintain Madame,” Abrams told the Judge.
He was represented by three attorneys – Leslie Sobers, Trenton Lake and Chandrawattie Persaud. The lawyer, in plea of mitigation before the sentencing, told the court that Abrams has been in service to many persons in his church.
“I have no doubt that he has served his acquaintances in many respects,” Persaud stated. She further highlighted that Abrams was once in charge of the church choir where he had oversight of many persons, including children. The attorney said her client’s integrity was never impeached at any stage.
However, State Prosecutor who led the case, Seeta Bisundial, highlighted contrasting views against what Persaud had stated. Bisundial reminded the court that Abrams abused his position of trust and violated the child in the worst way possible, shattering her innocence. She also noted that the victim will have to live with what occurred for the rest of her life. The State Counsel noted that even though Abrams was found guilty, he showed no remorse.
“It still holds true that you can see the face of man but not the heart of man,” Bisundial said. As such, she appealed for the maximum sentence to be imposed.
After some 10 minutes awaiting a response from the Judge to all that was said in court, Justice Morris-Ramlall noted that she considered the nature of the offence and the circumstances that surrounded the attack. She noted the evidence that the girl loved him and that Abrams said he loved her. The Judge however contended that the accused “pretended” to love her and treated the young girl “like a beast” which included him sodomising the child.
Reminding him that he abused a position of trust, Justice Morris-Ramlall noted that Abrams should seek forgiveness as he claimed to be a devoted Catholic. She then sentenced him to serve a life imprisonment sentence on each count, which will run concurrently. However, he will be eligible for parole after severing 35 years in prison.
Abrams was led away by a team of Police ranks and was heard angrily responding to the court’s sentence.