A Supreme Court judge has been applauded for taking a tough stance against child abuse and highlighting the suffering victims go through.
The head of the child advocacy group Saving Children and Revealing Secrets spoke out after Puisne Judge Juan Wolffe sentenced a paedophile to a maximum 18-year jail term.
Mr Justice Wolffe condemned John Dexter Seaman in the strongest terms when he delivered his sentence at a hearing last week, saying that the sex offender had acted with “predatory depravity,“ and ”in the most morally wicked and monstrous way”.
He ordered that Seaman serve at least ten years before he is eligible for release.
The judge also commented on the long-term suffering that sexual abuse victims endure, saying they “will most likely carry the wounds and scars of what happened to them for the rest of their lives”. Seaman’s victims were sisters aged 5 and 11.
Yesterday Debi Ray-Rivers, the founder and executive director of Scars, thanked Mr Justice Wolffe for “exposing the damage that this perpetrator inflicted on two young, innocent children”.
Ms Ray-Rivers said: “John Dexter Seaman caused immense trauma and pain to these two sisters. He stole their innocence, and they never had the freedom to enjoy their childhood and adolescent years.
“They suffered tremendous pain into their adulthood because of his self-serving and warped sexual addiction.
“Scars is very thankful that children in Bermuda will be protected from Mr. Seaman for at least the next decade.”
Ms Ray-Rivers also stressed that Seaman needs to undergo therapy while incarcerated and that he should obey strict conditions once released.
She said: “Our hope is that Mr Seaman will not be released without a proper and effective health sex programme that requires pre and post-progress reports to be submitted to the parole board when considering eligibility for release.
“If the parole board approves his release, then our hope is that he will be given specific conditions and restrictions upon that release.
“Any breach of the conditions will require him to be recalled back to prison without a trial. Our hope is also that John Dexter Seaman’s name will never be expunged from a sex offender register.
“It is our understanding that some offenders have been removed from this list. Let’s not forget that there is no cure for those sexually aroused by children.”
Ms Ray-Rivers said that Seaman had shown typical sex offender behavioural traits — and that parents and other caregivers needed to recognise those characteristics.
She said: “Every week in our Scars training sessions we educate adults how to protect children.
“For example, sexual predators recognise that they have easier access to children of absentee parents, and most sex offenders are people we know and trust.
“Those who commit sexual crimes against children groom and manipulate, and in most cases deny their actions.
“Most offenders who commit sexual crimes against children don’t stop with one child, and cause years of trauma to their victims, which results in victims engaging in self-destructive and highly risky behaviour.”
Ms Ray-Rivers also agreed with Mr Justice Wolffe that many cases of child sexual abuse may be going unreported — but added that more victims are coming forward.
She said: “Reporting is on the increase and child predators should be shaking in their boots. Historical cases are coming to light because our brave survivors are finding their courage and using their voice. This crime has been underreported and swept under rugs for years.
“Silence and shame around this issue has allowed predators to continue using children for sexual arousal. No more. Thank goodness we have no statute of limitations in this country. That means adults that were sexually abused as children can seek justice.
“This case highlights the fact that sentencing terms have increased in this country and Bermuda is taking sexual crimes against children seriously.
“We at Scars believe this is a direct result of prevention education and awareness. We are extremely proud of these two survivors for their bravery and perseverance.”