Man convicted of raping child he groomed on social media

A 24-year-old man who posed as a child on social media to befriend and groom a 13-year-old girl before molesting, assaulting and raping her has been convicted by a Grand Court jury.

A court order prevents this Cayman compass prevented from revealing his identity.

The man listened in silence Monday as the foreman unanimously announced his guilty verdicts against him on charges of sexual communication with a child, meeting a child after sexual communication, indecent assault, gross indecency and rape.

The George Town man, originally from the UK, arrived in the Cayman Islands five years ago. Shortly after, he began chatting with the child on Snapchat, a social media app that allows users to automatically delete their messages, photos and videos once they are sent.

In her opening statement, Crown attorney Sarah Lewis told the jury of five women and two men that the defendant used Snapchat to groom the girl.

“Students use this app to prevent their parents from finding out what they did,” Lewis said. “That’s why it’s also popular with people with criminal motives because the news disappears.”

During the trial, which lasted more than two weeks, the court heard that the defendant and the girl exchanged more than 2,000 messages. These included nude images of both parties and videos of the defendant performing lewd acts on himself.

From the start of the trial the defendant accepted that he had had sexually explicit conversations with the child and claimed he believed she was 17 years old and was turning 18. He also accepted some level of sexual contact but claimed that this was initiated by the complainant. He denied raping her.

After deliberating for about 45 minutes, the jury returned a unanimous guilty verdict on all five counts.

When the defendant heard the verdicts, he sobbed silently with his head bowed before being taken into custody.

A victim impact report was ordered and a preliminary sentencing hearing was scheduled for September.