PHILIPSBURG—Child rapist Bernard Stroud (52) was sentenced to seventeen years in prison on Thursday. His extramarital partner, former school secretary Joy Walters, has received a higher sentence than the ten years that the prosecutor demanded. The judge considers it proven that she herself is a predator, instead of a victim, and sentenced the 34-year-old woman to 13 years in prison.
The victims were girls between the ages of five and eleven. They were repeatedly raped or assaulted in the house of Stroud and his wife – also a suspect in the case. Two doors down the road in Belvedere lived Joy Walters, at the time a school secretary, where all the victims went to school. Walters tutored the children at her home. Sometimes the girls spent the night with her in her bedroom, and she brought the children to Stroud and his wife, with whom Walters had a love triangle for years.
According to the lawyers of Stroud and Walters, the statements that the children had made to the police and the examining magistrate were not credible. The children would have aligned their statements. Evidence that the children were actually raped by Stroud and Walters was lacking, the lawyers argued. They pleaded acquittal.
In rape cases, the situation often arises that there are no witnesses, the judge stated. “That is also the case here. In order to comply with the minimum evidentiary rule, the victim’s single declaration is insufficient to arrive at a proven statement. If the accused denies, the Court must find sufficient support in other evidence.”
Although Stroud has always denied that he is guilty, according to the judge there is sufficient supporting evidence. The Court of First Instance finds that the statements made by the four victims concerning the nature of the acts committed on them, the location where they were carried out, the time, the manner in which they were approached by Stroud and their relationship with the offender make it possible to infer a specific modus operandi.
During the hearing of the case on June 16, Walters also stated that she was innocent. Answers she gave to questions from the judge were incriminating for her. She confirmed that she had had a tongue piercing. One of the victims had stated to the police that the tongue piercing hurt when Walters licked her vagina. After more questions from the judge, Walters reversed her declaration of innocence, declaring instead to be Stroud’s victim. She would have acted on his behalf.
The judge says he does not give credence to Walters’ statement. Apart from rape in association in Stroud’s house, the defendant committed all the proven facts alone, the judge concludes in the verdict. “Neither the file nor the proceedings at the trial showed that the defendant then acted on behalf of or under pressure from Stroud.”
The Court ruled that three rapes can be attributed to Walters, one of which is in association, sexual assault and the production and possession of child pornography. Unlike the Prosecutor, the court considers Walters fully accountable. “That’s why the sentence is higher,” the judge explains.
Both Stroud and Walters must pay one of the girls the highest possible claimable compensation of 50,000 guilders. It was this girl’s statements to a school employee that exposed Walters and Stroud’s crimes.
Bron: Daily Herals