SANNIQUELLIE, Nimba – Three men ranging from 19 to 80 years of age have be sentenced by Criminal Court E at the Eighth Judicial Circuit Court in Sanniquellie for three separate statutory rapes.
Criminal Court E has been resolving several cases since it opened for the May term of court.
In its first ruling on July 2, 2020, the court found an 80-year-old man identified as Nyah Zaingbaye guilty of statutory rape after he used his fingers to penetrate the genitals of several underage children. Zaingbaye was sentenced to three years in prison; however, considering his age and health, the court recommended that he serve half of his prison term on probation.
On July 7, the 35-year-old Abraham Kepeh received a sentence of three years imprisonment for raping a 12-year-old girl in Tappita. The crime took place on December 2, 2019.
The ruling determined that the defendant followed the victim in a room, grabbed and covered her mouth with his hand, subdued and took off her underclothes, knocked her on the ground, and inserted his penis in her vagina.
Because the crime is unbailable, Kepeh, who had already pleaded guilty to the crime, had been held at the Sanniquellie Central Prison since December 3, 2019.
Judge Hector W. Quoigoah delivered the court’s final judgment of three years in prison, with one of the years being on probation. Because Kepeh has already spent some time in prison, he will also receive credit for the time served.
The other defendant recently sentenced by the court for statutory rape was Prince Molubah, a 19-year-old from Yekepa’s Area P Community. He was accused of raping a 14-year-old girl.
In the final judgment, the court ruled that Molubah had threatened the victim with a razor blade before disrobing her, knocking her down and forcefully inserting his penis into her vagina.
Molubah had pleaded not guilty initially but changed his plea to guilty when the trial began. He was sentenced to five years in prison, with two of those years to be spent under probation.
Although the three men were sentenced, several others were cleared of rape after Judge Quoigoah said there was not sufficient evidence brought by prosecutors against them.
The court ordered the release of 17-year-old Williamson Nyanquee and 47-year-old Preston Gualee, who were indicted for kidnapping and gang-raping a 39-year-old woman on January 18, 2020 in Digamon Town in Nimba’s second electoral district.
Nimba’s gender coordinator, Yah Belleh Suah, says Nimba ranks first in sexual and gender-based violence among counties in Liberia. She noted that the county recorded 39 rape cases and several other domestic violence cases from January to May 30 this year.
Most of the victims, Suah said, were between the ages of 6 and 15. They are being taken care of in a safe home in Sanniquellie. While most of the alleged perpetrators have been arrested by the Liberia National Police and are awaiting trial at the Sanniquellie Central Prison, she noted that eight are still at large.
Suah praised the team assigned at Nimba’s Criminal Court E for the work to ensure that perpetrators of sexual violence have their day in court. However, she is calling for more awareness in helping to discourage such acts in the county.
Featured photo by Jerry Myers