Dr. Sandra Dean Patterson of the Bahamas Crisis Centre yesterday decried the two-week delay in authorities reporting an alleged sexual assault of a six-year-old girl.
Authorities did not report an April 28 incident until Monday, when a second young girl was allegedly sexually assaulted by the same man.
Patterson said it is critical for the public to be made aware of these matters as soon as they occur.
She expressed concern with what she said has become a pattern concerning reports on rapes.
“In the years I have been doing this work, which is many, many years, very infrequently do police talk about sexual assault,” she said. “You know, a little girl went out to put garbage in her garbage bin and she was abducted, taken off and raped, and it was not reported, you know.
“So, that does happen, but hopefully now, we have a country that is concerned, and is saying, ‘Look, we want to know when these things happen because we want to [be] able to protect our children’.”
On Tuesday, police reported that two girls, ages six and 12, were sexually assaulted in separate incidents.
Chief Superintendent Solomon Cash said police believe one person may have committed the acts.
According to Cash, the first incident happened on April 28 shortly after 4 p.m. on Bahama Avenue, off Baillou Hill Road.
The second incident happened on Monday after 3 p.m.
Cash said the 12-year-old was assaulted while she was walking home.
She was walking on Darling Street, off Wulff Road, next to Stephen Dillet Primary School.
Police did not report a rape on Bahama Avenue on April 28, nor in the days that followed.
Superintendent Mark Barrett, the officer in charge of the South Central Division, suggested the sensitive nature of the investigation prompted police on a course of action that did not involve reporting that matter immediately.
In response, Patterson said the need to approach an investigation sensitively is understandable.
But she said the public must be made aware of the dangers that exist to better prepare them.
“I think police do not want to frighten the public and do not want people to be nervous about what is happening,” she said.
“And so, you have to weigh [whether] that is going to cause chaos and fear.
“They (police) may have said, ‘We’re going to find this person,’ and they may have thought that they could have found him fairly quickly, not realizing he was going to go and do it again.”
Patterson said this should serve as a teachable moment.
She called on the country to take greater steps to protect children in The Bahamas.
When asked what led to the two-week delay in reporting the crime outside Parliament on Wednesday, Minister of National Security Marvin Dames said he was not aware, but opined that several factors could impact the reporting of that incident, including the information the authorities had at the time.
But he said the composite sketch issued of the alleged suspect demonstrated that work took place behind the scenes.
Dames added that the government plans to implement a sex offenders registry soon.
As of yesterday, police had not located the man believed to be responsible for the alleged crimes.