By Franklin Doloquee/Nimba County
Ganta, Nimba County – In a shocking development, a 55-year-old magistrate assigned to the Zuolay Magisterial Court in Lower Nimba County has been apprehended on charges of statutory rape and sexual abuse.
Magistrate Chester S. Paye was taken into custody following the incident on November 27, 2023 with a complaint against him filed at the Tappita Police station, leading to his arrest, investigation and subsequent transfer to the Sanniquellie Central prison, where he awaits trial.
The victim has been under the care of one Rita Dahn and her husband Chester Paye (the accused magistrate) since May 2023.
Detailing the tormenting experience, the victim who is just 12 years said when left alone, her auntie’s husband- magistrate Paye regularly coerced her to stay on the farm, where he allegedly subjected her to sexual abuse over an extended period, threatening to withhold food if she left the farm.
The victim’s father, Obrasco Kartoe, shared with reporters that during his September 2023 visit to Zuolay town, where the incident transpired, his 12-year-old daughter greeted him and disclosed the sexual abuse she endured at the hands of her caregiver, Magistrate Chester S. Paye.
According to the father, young girl narrated that whenever her caregiver’s wife was absent, Magistrate Chester S. Paye would force himself upon her, an abuse, she stated, persisted consistently for several months.
A medical report, in possession of this publication, substantiates the abuse suffered by the 12-year-old at the hands of Magistrate Chester S. Paye.
Our Nimba County correspondent confirmed that Magistrate Chester Paye, is presently held at the Sanniquellie Central prison, while the victim, is undergoing treatment and is expected to receive treatment outside the country.
Reports indicate that ten rape cases remain unresolved since the incident occurred including in Gbei & Doru, Tappita, Sanniquellie Mahn District, Zoe-Gweh Adminstrative District.
Some parents of the victims expressed their inability to seek justice due to a lack of money, citing transportation costs of 40,000 to 50,000 Liberian dollars for the rape suspects.
They say court officials charge them to bring the perpetrators to Sannuquellie Central Prison to await court trial.
Meanwhile, the safe home accommodating rape victims in Sanniquellie, Nimba County, reportedly faces shortages of basic materials, including food.
Mr. Belleh Gworlekagu, the SGBV Crime Unit head for prosecution, spoke to our Nimba County correspondent, revealing challenges arising from insufficient funding from international partners.
He noted that government support alone is insufficient compared to previous levels of assistance that came from Donors.
Our correspondent said few months ago, over thirty rape suspects were released from the Sanniquellie Central prison compound due to prolong dentation without trial.
Some of them had spent five years in jail without a trial.
Our reporter said some parents confessed they paid significant amounts ranging from 50,000 to 100,000 Liberian dollars for the release of family members held for rape.
The current head of Prosecution SGBV Crime Unit in Nimba, Mr. Belleh Gworlekagu, denied this report, stating had just assumed the role.
However, those released additionally confirmed to our reporter that substantial sums were indeed paid from them to be set free.