Tobagonians weigh in on Duke’s rape charges, pending trial

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Watson Duke –

“If he does the crime, he should do the time.”

This was the consensus shared in the streets of Scarborough last Friday after news broke that former Public Services Association (PSA) president and Political Leader of the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) Watson Duke had been committed to stand trial for a set of criminal charges related to the alleged rape and indecent assault of a former subordinate. Most people preferred not to comment, Newsday was able to speak with a few passers by who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

One man said: “You do the crime, you do the time, but I guess now this boils down to innocent until proven guilty. And at the end of the day, also, there needs to come a time where if it is that he is actually guilty, well figure-heads need to answer for their wrongdoings.

“Because the small men are getting hard convictions on these same crimes, but yet when it comes to the ‘big boys’ or the prominent people, it drags on and takes its time, and then you hear nothing from it thereafter.

“Let justice take its course and if he is found to be guilty, let him suffer the consequences.”

While another said: “It fits his character. The fact that he was instantly released on bail, I have an issue with that because that shows no justice in the situation because more than likely this case would get tied up and people would forget about it.”

One woman nearby said she stood by her leader.

“That is my leader and I stand by him. He is innocent until proven guilty.”

While another said: “Let justice take its course.”

All efforts to contact chairman of the PDP Sean Nedd proved futile as calls and messages to his mobile went unanswered.

Duke was committed on Tuesday by Port of Spain magistrate Marissa Gomez.

Duke, the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) electoral representative for Roxborough/Argyle and former THA deputy chief secretary, was granted $250,000 bail on the sexual offences charges and posted it right after the hearing, Newsday was told.

He was before Magistrate Gomez in relation to the charges that he allegedly committed acts of serious indecency against the woman on four occasions between January and April 2016, at the headquarters of the PSA in Port of Spain and having sexual intercourse with the woman against her will on May 10, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Port of Spain.

The alleged victim, according to the charges, was an employee of the union. Duke was PSA president at the time of the allegations.

His attorneys are Gilbert Peterson, SC, and John Heath. When he first appeared in court in 2016, Duke told the media he was “innocent” and claimed he was “set up.”