The Government is being urged to introduce specialised treatment for sex offenders and strict licence conditions for when they are released into the community.
Last week Devaun Cox was jailed for 12 months for inappropriately touching a woman — an offence committed less than a week after he was released from jail for sexually assaulting a female patient at the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute, in January 2021.
When he was released Kathy Lynn Simmons, the Attorney-General and the Minister of Legal Affairs and Constitutional Reform, issued a public notice.
It said the minister was empowered to “disclose information in relation to sex offenders who are considered to present a risk of significant harm to the health or safety of the public, an affected group of people or an individual”.
Devaun Cox’s previous convictions
Cox’s previous convictions date back to 2012, when he was sentenced to six months in prison for intruding on the privacy of a young girl.
He spent three years behind bars for a similar offence in 2013 and was jailed for another three years in 2017 for intruding on a girl’s privacy for a third time. Cox appealed the 2017 conviction, but it was upheld in 2018.
After his sentencing the charity Saving Children And Revealing Secrets posted on its Facebook page: “Our concern is what happens when he is released in one year …. who will be traumatised next?”
Expanding on that, Debi Ray-Rivers, the founder and executive director of Scars, said: “If a repeat sex offender deemed dangerous is released into the community after serving one year and without the most effective treatment available and without strict licence conditions attached, then it’s only natural for Scars to be extremely concerned.
“Let’s not forget that Mr Cox violated another human life six days after being released from completing a six-month prison sentence for sexually assaulting a female patient at a facility for those suffering with mental illness.”
Suggesting what could be done, Ms Ray-Rivers added: “First, bring the HSP Sex Offender Treatment Programme used in the UK to Westgate to ensure that we are providing the most effective sex offender treatment that exists with pre and post reports provided to the Parole Board prior to consideration of release.”
The Healthy Sex Programme is the UK’s Prison and Probation Service accredited offending behaviour programme designed to help men with convictions for sexual offences effectively manage and reduce their sexual offending.
Scars has been advocating for the programme “for several years,” according to Ms Ray-Rivers.
She added: “Second, we recommend the implementation of strict sex offender licence [parole] conditions and if these conditions are breached, the offender returns to Westgate.”
Referring to Cox’s offence against a female patient in MWI, Ms Ray-Rivers added: “If a facility that treats those with mental illness is unable to protect its adult patients for whatever reasons, then that would tell us that a patient like Mr Cox requires constant supervision to protect others from any sexual trauma.
“As far as we know, there is currently no facility in Bermuda, apart from Westgate that offers that type of strict supervision and management.
“Realistically, however, we know that the advocates of those who commit sexual crimes would never support their client being incarcerated for life, therefore it would make sense to Scars that our country make it a priority to build a facility for those who require constant supervision because of their dangerous risk.
“This would include dangerous sex offenders who suffer with mental challenges. If we can’t change their minds, which would result in a different action to their sexual thoughts, and through the most effective sex offender treatment available, then they must be monitored 24/7 and they must not be unsupervised.”
The Minister of Legal Affairs was approached for comment yesterday morning but there was no response by the time of publication.