Trinidad trade unionist charged with rape, indecent assault; granted $1/4 million bail
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – The head of the Public Services Association (PSA) Watson Duke has been charged with raping one of the organization’s employees at a hotel a week ago, after allegedly indecently assaulting her on four previous occasions.
But he is adamant that he is innocent and says he has no intentions of resigning from his position as president of the PSA.
Duke appeared in court yesterday and was granted TT$250,000 (US$37,537) bail, on charges that he committed acts of serious indecency against the woman on four occasions between January and last month at the union’s headquarters; and having sexual intercourse with the woman against her will, last Tuesday in a room at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Port of Spain.
He was not required to plead to the indictable offences, but he told the media after appearing before Chief Magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar that he was innocent.
“I didn’t commit the act and I’m sure with time that will be proven,” he said, adding that he felt no embarrassment because he was not guilty. “I feel very normal, like Watson Duke.”
Duke had been in custody for four days, after turning himself into police last Thursday when he learned he was being sought for questioning.
Speaking to the media yesterday, Duke said he was under no obligation, under the PSA’s constitution, to resign from his position.
The PSA’s first vice-president Christopher Joefield, who attended the hearing, told reporters outside the court that the executive of the union “stands firmly” behind Duke in the matter.
“We would see where things stand after the process is concluded,” he said. “In the meantime, we will continue to ensure the strategic direction of the PSA does not get railroaded.”
He also assured that the alleged victim would be sent to another “more comfortable” location – one of the other four PSA offices in the country.
“The PSA plans to ensure that her rights are not violated in any way. We are also an employer and will be treating with the issue with a degree of objectivity,” Joefield said.
As a condition of his bail release, Duke has been ordered to stay at least 500 metres away from his accuser, and refrain from having any contact with her.
Meantime, a female attorney has gone to the media complaining that she was incorrectly identified as the alleged victim in the case against Duke.
Cherry Ann Rajkumar said her photo has been posted on social media, and she has become a victim of character assassination.
She said she has reported the matter to police.
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