Nassau Bahamas – Rev. Earl Randy Fraser senior pastor of the Pilgram Baptist Church on St. James Road and Bishop within the Full Gospel Assembly was acquitted and told that he was a free man. Bishop Fraser was accused of having sexual intercourse with an underage dependant between July 2005 and February 2006.
The case that dragged on in the courts for months of delay finally came to an end on Tuesday as Magistrate Marilyn Meers handed down her ruling. Magistrate Meers noted that that DNA evidence presented by the prosecution in the case was inconsistent with the allegations.
Magistrate Meers noted that the allegation against Bishop Fraser who a former board member on the National Child Protection Council and his accuser the then 16 year-old who is now 18, should have confirmed that a sexual relationship did occur.
Magistrate Meers explain that is was mandatory for the prosecution to confirm this in their arguments. She noted that whilst the semen collected in Bishop Fraser’s office matched his DNA, the time in which the young girl alleged the sex acts occurred, did not coincide with the time when the semen found was deposited on the carpet. Detective confirmed during the case that the semen found where only three days old, months after the time alleged incident
The packed courtroom heard Magistrate announcement that “due to a lack of evidence” Bishop Fraser had no case to answer and that he is therefore discharged.
Some 16 witnesses were called to the stand including the young girl and gave testimony during the trial. The young girl said during her testimony that both she and her family loved and respected Bishop Fraser and they looked up to him.
The young girl told the court that she was receiving counseling as she had attempted to kill herself, hoping that it would “heal the wounds,” of the trauma she experienced.
She told the court that as a dependent of Bishop Fraser she was sent to him initially for counseling which she never received. The teenager highlighted her fears of coming public with the allegations, with fear of becoming “persecuted” for her revelations.
Under examination by Prosecutor Don Bannister the young girl told the court that she had felt brainwashed by the Bishop, as she described in detail of the allegations. The teenager revealed to the court how various marks could have be found on the Bishop’s genital area, however Magistrate Meers was not open to a request by Prosecutor Bannister to have a professional examine Bishop Fraser in order to confirm whether the young girl was telling the truth.
The court was presented during the trial with items given to the young girl by the accused including two watches, a gold chain and charm, perfume and a red T-shirt.
A voice message believed to be that of her accuser was left on the young girl’s phone and circulated on Internet during the trial. In the recording an appeal to the young teenager for sex was expressed. Having heard the recording family members of the teenager burst into the St. James Road Church and openly accused the Bishop in the midst of the congregation.
Formal charges later in April 2006 were filed in the courts against Bishop Fraser.
Defense attorney Wayne Munroe told the court that the young girl had cropped up many lies on his client and stated that the young girl had accepted sexual favours from other men, including male teachers from her former high school. He suggested to the court that this was a practice of the teenager and that Bishop Fraser was only in his role as a minister trying to help her. However she maintain under cross-examination that she was taken advantage of.
Hundred of Internet chatters began blogging across the ‘world wide web’ upon hearing the ruling that Bishop Fraser was an innocent man. One reader told Bahamaspress.com that Magistrate Meers erred in her ruling to have based her decision on DNA alone and dismissed the chilling testimony of the young girl. Another reader added, “What does this case say to innocent underage girls who are afraid to come forth in abuse cases in the first place? Here is another example where in The Bahamas the poor is locked away without evidence and the rich is set free with evidence.”
Recently a case involving a young boy that was sodomized and murdered was dismissed out of the courts as a judge accepted the defendant’s claim of police brutality. The accused confession to the murder was therefore made irrelevant as the accused walked away a freeman. Another reader said, “Bahamians are crying out for a system of justice system that will get it right and stop causing so many innocent victims turn suicidal with fear in telling the truth.”
Prosecutors in the Bishop Fraser case said they would consider an appeal in the matter, in which they have seven days to give notice.