By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
ARRESTING a Jamaican woman who was allegedly raped by a senior immigration officer five years ago was directly related to “the sovereignty of The Bahamas”, a senior police officer insisted yesterday.
Superintendent Adrian Curry, testifying before Justice Indra Charles, said based on what he knows, Claudia Edwards Bethel’s arrest was a “national security” matter. However, he did not clarify what he meant.
Supt Curry also denied assertions that a certain portion of his official statement, that mentioned Mrs Bethel and others were taken into custody for “safe keeping”, meant they were potential victims of human trafficking.
Nonetheless, Supt Curry said the arrests of all of the women—Mrs Bethel included—at the Twilight Bar in Montell Heights on December 13, 2014 related to national security matters.
He said Mrs Bethel was specifically arrested because she appeared to be “in control” of the other women, most of whom were scantily clad, and who he suspected of being illegal immigrants.
Supt Curry said given what he saw after entering the bar: women donned in “skimpy clothing” and underwear; some of them sweating; a stage and a pole, he knew some sort of “exotic dancing” had taken place.
Given that Mrs Bethel was the bartender, according to the evidence, Supt Curry said he suspected that she was in charge of the “strippers” and was thus allowing them to engage in gainful employment in contravention of the Immigration Act.
He asserted that the information he received from former Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade, that illegal immigrants were engaging in “exotic acts” at the bar in question, was “right on key”.
Nonetheless, Supt Curry doubled down on his previous evidence that Mrs Bethel was not one of the women he saw wearing “skimpy clothes”.
The senior police officer also said he did not actually see anyone dancing, dancing lewdly, being naked, or engaging in any acts of obscenity or disorderly behaviour.
However, he said that was attributed to the fact that when he first entered the bar, only “neon lights” served as a light source.
Supt Curry said when he ordered the lights to be turned on and the music to be turned off, he noticed that the patrons were standing still.
He said he then separated the men and the women by having them stand on either side of the club. He said he made it a point not to interact with any of the women in the club to prevent any possibility of accusations of improper behaviour on his part ever arising.
While being cross examined, Supt Curry also agreed that Mrs Bethel’s initial statement to police bears more of a similarity to a witness statement as opposed to that of a suspect in custody. Thus, he questioned, without being provoked, how what appeared to be a witness statement to him could be taken from someone regarded as a suspect.
“How is it that a witness statement is recorded from a suspect in custody? I’ve never heard of that,” he said, adding that something like that “should not be”.
Supt Curry’s testimony came in Mrs Bethel’s civil suit against the government over senior immigration officer Norman Sylvester Bastian allegedly raping her on two occasions between December 15 and 16, 2014, and also forcing her to perform oral sex on him on two occasions.
The civil suit comes years after the rape case against Mr Bastian was tossed out of the Magistrate’s Court following a no-case submission by his attorneys at the time.
According to the evidence, after being arrested and transported to the Central Police Station on December 13, 2014, Mrs Bethel was turned over to immigration officials and detained at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre (CRDC) for a stint.
She was subsequently released into Mr Bastian’s custody for “continuing investigation” on December 15, 2014.
She claims she was eventually taken to his house, and raped twice between December 15 and 16, 2014, with Mr Bastian using a condom in the latter incident. She said he also made her perform oral sex on him on two occasions.
Mr Bastian has denied the rape and maintains the sex was consensual.
Fred Smith, QC, and Crispin Hall represent Mrs Bethel.
Wayne Munroe, QC and Alex Morley represent Mr Bastian.
Kayla Green-Smith, Ashley Sturrup and Rasheed Edgecombe represent the Crown, namely the attorney general, the minister and director of immigration, and the commissioner of police.
The matter has been adjourned to a date to be determined by the court.