By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
A SAN Salvador native has been sentenced to two decades in prison for raping a 17-year-old American tourist on that island five years ago.
Justice Cheryl Grant-Thompson sentenced Henry Gay to 20 years for the April 2014 rape of the woman, who is now in her early 20's.
In July of last year, a nine-member jury found Gay guilty by a vote of 7-2 of the crime.
According to the evidence led at trial, the woman said around 9.20am on the date in question, she left her house on a bike, heading towards Cockburn Town, something she did "every single day" while there. She said her family frequently visits San Salvador.
At the time, she said she was wearing a bikini and a pair of shorts.
She said she rode past Cockburn Town and ended up at a dead end, which was a lake. From there, she turned around and began travelling up a small hill, where she said she saw a "large, black male" walking towards her in the middle of the road.
At that point, she said she tried to get around the man, but he screamed "I am not going to hurt you." Nonetheless, she said he grabbed her handlebar and threw her to the ground and immediately started to choke her.
She said she tried to struggle, but could not make any noise.
The teenager said she then started to slip into unconsciousness, while Gay was allegedly saying, "Don't look at me, look away, close your eyes."
She said she went unconscious about a few minutes afterwards. When she came to, she said she couldn't see her assailant, but could hear him moving near her.
She said she began to cry and plead for help. However, she said she felt the man grab her underneath her arms and drag her a few metres into the bush next to the side of the road, before dropping her on her back.
At this point, the teenager said she was screaming and crying for help. However, she said the man began to strangle her again. She said she was able to see the man's face as this was happening, but a few seconds later she passed out again from him choking her.
She said she woke up once more, and said presumably a few minutes later, the man pushed her shorts and bikini to the side and digitally penetrated her.
She said he asked her to perform a sex act on him, as she cried and begged him to let her go. Despite her pleas, he forced her to perform the act for 10 to 20 seconds, she said.
After that, she said, the man told her that they needed to go to the lake to wash off the evidence. She said he grabbed her by the arm and led her towards the lake. When they came out of the bushes, she said she realised she had defecated on herself.
She said she pointed that fact out to her assailant, who then told her, "That is okay, we will go to the lake and wash that off."
They proceeded towards the lake; at first she said he was grabbing her by the arm, but eventually he let her go and she just continued walking with him. She said she didn't want to risk running away and possibly causing him to attack her again.
She said it took about three minutes to walk back to the lake. During that time, she said he asked her a "few questions" like who she went to San Salvador with and why she was there.
The teenager said when they arrived at the lake, the man sat on the edge of the dock and told her to wash herself off. She said she obeyed and started washing herself off in the water, as well as the seat of her bikini bottom, without taking it off.
She said the man told her to wash out her mouth, which she did.
She said he then asked her to remove her bikini, which she did. After doing so, she said the man began to get "aroused".
She said he told her to "hurry up and get out of the water, so I can have sex with you." She said when she asked him if he was going to rape her, he said "yes". Upon hearing that, the woman said she said something to the effect of her not wanting to get pregnant.
In response, the woman said the man basically offered her the alternative of giving him oral sex a second time.
"And I said yes, since I had already done it, and I didn't want to have sex with this man," she said.
After completing the act, she said he then performed oral sex on her without her consent.
At this point, the victim said she remained calm because she presumed the man was going to let her go. She said they then both walked back to where her bike was, while the assailant made small conversation, asking her if she knew how to get back to her area.
She said she eventually asked the man if he would let her go, to which he replied "yes". The woman said upon reaching her bike, she got on and slowly began to ride away. She said she rode all the way back to her house, some 25 minutes away.
She said she arrived at her home some 10 minutes before 11am. Altogether, she estimated her encounter with the man as lasting for 20-25 minutes. And out of those 20-25 minutes, she said she saw his face for some 12-15 minutes.
As soon as she arrived home, she told her mother what had happened. Her mother then told her father, who then reported the matter to the police around 11am.
The three of them then drove to the police station, where officers spoke with her and asked her to describe the incident that had transpired. She also said she was taken to New Providence the following day, April 22, when she gave a statement to the police while in hospital.
She also said that she was able to identify the man who she claimed raped her as number seven on a photograph lineup. She said she then returned to San Salvador for a few days before leaving.
However, during cross-examination by defence attorney Ramona Farquharson-Seymour, the woman acknowledged that a key part of her initial description of her assailant changed after being shown a picture of the accused by Crown counsel some four years later.
The woman said while she initially stated in her six-page police statement on April 21, 2014 that her assailant had a gap in the top row of his teeth, she realised that wasn't the case after an unidentified Crown prosecutor assigned to her showed her a picture of the accused about a year ago via video chat while she was in Spain.
However, she maintained that notwithstanding the appearance of Gay's teeth, she is "completely able" to identify him.
She said when she identified him in the photo line-up, she was able to pick him out because his eyes are "very distinctive" to her.
The part about Gay's eyes was not mentioned anywhere in her initial statement either, as noted by Mrs Farquharson-Seymour.
In response, however, the woman said the description of Gay's eyes was a "personal note" she made.