A St. Croix Superior Court jury on Friday found Kenson Barley guilty of unlawful sexual contact in the first-degree stemming from his sexual assault of a 9-year-old girl on St. Croix.
Barley faces up to 15 years imprisonment, according to Attorney General Denise George, who announced the conviction in a news release.
V.I. Department of Justice prosecutors, Assistant Attorneys General Eric Chancellor and MacKeish Taylor, proved to the jury that on the morning of February 16, 2019, the 9-year-old girl accompanied her grandfather to a store in Christiansted. She waited in her grandfather’s vehicle while he went into the store.
Barley, a family acquaintance, approached the girl sitting in the vehicle, according to evidence at the trial. The girl testified that Barley offered to let her pet his dog, which he retrieved from his vehicle. While she petted the dog, Barley reached into the vehicle, groped her vagina and propositioned her for sex. The girl did not immediately tell anyone what happened but later that evening told her mother, who then reported the sexual assault to the police.
“Children are the most valuable members of our community. In the Caribbean, we say that children should be seen and not heard. This makes them vulnerable,” Chancellor said. Attorney General George added that sexual abuse cases with minor victims are among the most difficult.
“Sexual assault cases involving child victims are among the most sensitive cases and often the most difficult to prosecute. Yet it is extremely important that child sexual predators are prosecuted to the fullest extent and brought to justice,” George said. “I commend the child’s mother for listening and seeking justice by reporting the sexual assault to the police, and the child for her bravery in coming forward and testifying in court.”
Barley will be required under V.I. law to register as a sex offender.