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CHILD ASSAULT CASE AGAINST JUSTICE AIDE ON HOLD

Oct. 27, 2003 – Attorney General Iver Stridiron said on Monday that he will delay prosecution of the charges brought three weeks ago against a special investigator for the V.I. Justice Department accused of battering his 9-year-old son.
William Curtis, 49, was arrested at his office on Friday and charged with aggravated assault and battery after he allegedly punched the boy in the face during an argument over homework.
Stridiron said on Monday that he has declared the case nol-pross, short for nolle prosequi, or not subject to prosecution, until he can confer with Police Commissioner Elton Lewis, who is off-island.
"We were concerned with the incident with William Curtis, as well as the manner with which the arrest took place at the Department of Justice, and whether or not the activity took place despite the commissioner of Police's admonition to his subordinates," Stridiron said. "The commissioner and I have discussed the matter … and he indicated [that] as soon as he came back, he would address the matter with his subordinates."
The charges against Curtis were filed on Oct. 7. Stridiron said it appeared to him that police waited until late Friday afternoon to arrest him so as to increase the chances that he would spend the weekend in jail if he could not post bail. However, Stridiron said, Curtis did post bail, which was set at $500, and was released on his own recognizance.
Sgt. Thomas Hannah, Police Department spokesman, would not specifically address the Curtis case on Monday. He said that once a warrant is obtained, police can make an arrest at any time within a given period of time. "If an incident occurs today, for example," he said, "I can see if we can strengthen the prosecution. Then I can go get an arrest warrant based on the evidence presented."
An individual familiar with the case, speaking on condition of anonymity, said authorities had gathered volumes of evidence including photographs, medical records and a police report before making the arrest. Curtis allegedly told his son after striking him to "tell them at the school that I did it," and the child did so, the individual said.
Curtis is the second Justice Department employee in recent months to be arrested and charged with a crime. Wilbert Smith, a forensics expert on St. Thomas, was charged with armed robbery at the end of July. Authorities say he argued with a motorist at a gas station then pulled a gun on the driver and took a bag with undisclosed contents. (See "Justice faced with prosecuting one of its own".)
Stridiron said the Smith prosecution is going forward. "The case is probably going to be scheduled for either December or January," he said.

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