Trinidad TV host bailed on teen rape broadcast charges

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Trinidad's Ian Alleyene, host of TV6's Crime Watch, has been released on bail. He spent the weekend in custody after being charged under the Sexual Offences Act following television broadcasts allegedly showing a mentally ill teenage girl's rape.

The controversial case centres around Port of Spain.

Arrested on April 20, Alleyne spent the weekend in a hospital and the night of April 23 in police custody. He is now free after a Port of Spain magistrate granted his release on TT$80,000 (About US$13,300). The case is adjourned until May 14, when the owner of the TV station, Caribbean Communications Network, is summonsed to also appear in court regarding the same broadcasts.

The charges, filed just days before the statute of limitations expired, allege footage was thrice broadcast in October 2011 which allowed public identification of a rape victim. A fourth charge alleges Alleyne, who's lawyer says has no previous convictions, obstructed the police investigation.

it is just a travesty of justice

—Ian Alleyne

The fourth charge relates to an incident last week at Caribbean Communications Network's Independence Square premises in Port of Spain. Alleyne was ultimately arrested publicly but police claim they first asked him to attend a police station.

Alleyne was taken to court early yesterday morning where he appeared before Chief Magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar in a hearing witnessed by journalists and his family. Thirty minutes after bail was granted he had posted it and was freed, meeting supporters protesting against the prosecution outside the courthouse.

"[I]f you go back to the genesis of this entire incident you will realise it is just a travesty of justice," he told the press. Walking through Port of Spain upon his release, he twice mounted tables to address following supporters. "They can lock me up for a month, they can lock me up for two months, but I will still come out and will continue my fight for you. As long as there is breath in my body, I will continue fighting for you, the poor people."

During the hearing, court officials were accused by the magistrate of breaching procedure. Alleyne had been taken directly into the court before it had opened, and was fed breakfast there. Superintendent of the Court and Process Branch Kenneth Cordner promised to "hold some training sessions to ensure that the officers fully understand their roles" and called the incident "upsetting."

Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard warned local media yesterday not to prejudice any trial, noting the high public interest in the case. Gaspard said doing so would "would constitute an unwelcome and unfortunate interference with the due administration of justice and may properly provide a sufficient basis upon which a citation for contempt may be fastened."

Also yesterday, Alleyne took to the studio and returned to his position hosting Crime Watch. He denies all charges.