A Caye Caulker businessman who was accused of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl more than a year ago was acquitted today of one count of aggravated assault of an indecent nature.
Jerod Emmanuel Dawson, 42, a tattoo artist, was freed of the charge when the girl, a high school student, admitted under cross-examination from his attorney during the trial before Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith, that she had fabricated the story.
Dawson was freed of the charge after Smith upheld a no-case-to-answer submission from his attorney.
On May 23, 2013, the girl reported to Caye Caulker police that Dawson had put a hickey on her neck while she was on the basketball court.
The allegation of the sexual assault charge against Dawson had forced him to close down his Art Inn Sanity Tattoo Shop on “La Isla Carinosa.”
Details of the alleged sexual assault began to emerge when the trial got underway about three months ago.
Dawson was represented by attorney Kathleen Lewis, a former Magistrate with sixteen years’ experience in the Magistracy.
During the trial, the girl gave compelling evidence that Dawson had placed the hickey (vamp) on her neck, but it was not until Lewis began cross-examining the girl, who is now 14, that she recanted her story and admitted that she had fabricated the allegation against Dawson.
And why did she make up such an incredible lie? In her en camera appearance at the trial, Lewis managed to extract the reason from her.
It was because her mother had seen the hickey on her neck and began to beat her, and she yelled out Dawson’s name as the person who had placed the mark on her neck.
The girl’s mother also confirmed during her testimony that it was when she was beating her daughter that she was told that Dawson had “vamped” her neck.
At the close of the prosecution’s case, which was done by Inspector Carol Tucker, Lewis made a no- case-to-answer submission, telling the court that the victim admitted to lying on the witness stand about her client.
Lewis also told the court that when the child told her mother that Dawson had put the hickey on her neck, this was done under duress, because the mother was beating the child.
In her ruling to uphold Lewis’ no-case submission, the Chief Magistrate said: “There were difficulties and inconsistencies in the Crown’s case. The main difficulty was the credibility of the victim, who gave two statements. In the first statement, she said that what she had initially told the police in that statement was a lie, and that the second statement she gave was the truth.”
During the trial, the girl had also claimed that she was having a relationship with Dawson. But no evidence was presented to buttress that claim.
But the girl’s mother had testified that Dawson had been sending messages to her daughter via Facebook. A police witness in the case told the court that the girl’s mother had asked him not to reveal the Facebook messages in court.
Magistrate Smith said, “It was obvious that the mother of the alleged victim wanted him [referring to Dawson] to punish, because they hid the Facebook evidence.”
After his acquittal, Dawson told court reporters that he will now begin to rebuild his reputation in the community after the terrible experience.