American news anchor appeals to J'can judge

BY KIMONE FRANCIS
Senior staff reporter
francisk@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

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THE American news anchor who accused her ex-lover of 'cyber rape' is appealing to Jamaican Parish Judge Jaqueline Wilcot to impose a heavy sentence on the 53-year-old man.

Darieth Chisolm, a former NBC News anchor, is urging Judge Wilcot to “send a message” to people who intentionally harm others through revenge porn posted online.

Chisolm's ex-lover, Donovan Powell, had pleaded guilty in a Jamaican court to three counts of malicious communication, under the Cybercrimes Act, and is now awaiting sentencing.

“I hope that the judge when it comes to sentencing — scheduled for November 1 — really look at his history and his past. This is someone who has been convicted in the United States on three charges in the past and was deported...so they (court) should take that into consideration. That is important in cases like this not only for me, but also for other victims when these types of crimes happen.

“If they (court) get serious with the punishment it may mean that they may be fewer people who think about using their cellphones and their laptops as weapons, because that's essentially what they are doing,” Chisolm told the Jamaica Observer, which first reported the story in October 2017.

At the same time, Chisolm, a life coach, lauded Jamaica's Cybercrimes Act, describing it as a “well-written Act”.

Chisolm said a part of her advocacy case in the United States is to look at where the North American country is with revenge porn and cybercrimes, and a quick comparison between the two laws revealed how detailed Jamaica's is.

“We don't even have language that's written as clearly so it's actually, in my opinion, written very well. It's very succinct and it's clear. The fact that we now have someone who has pleaded guilty to three of six charges that were levelled against him is a great opportunity for them to do the next step, which is to sentence him in accordance to that and not just choose the option of a slap on the wrist or a fine. The sentencing with this can certainly move into prison time and be much more extensive and I believe that it should be. It should be based on what he's done and his propensity to continue, but also to send a message to other people out there,” said Chisolm.

She added that revenge porn is a growing epidemic, with numerous victims who are too afraid to talk or who have felt there is no justice for them.

“When this happens, this is an opportunity for all parties that work to bring justice to people to see it through to the end, and to be able to support other victims along the way. So my hope is that this will embolden other victims to come forward, but also create a continued response from the agencies that have been involved to be more responsible to other people who come forward.

“I realise that in my case it was really a rare circumstance. A lot of the pieces that came together...that is not something that most people are going to fight for and go through as long as I did, but they also have the opportunity. So we need to shorten that process and make it more available for other victims,” she said.

Chisolm told the Jamaica Observer that she had engaged a US court 13 times over 11 months in efforts to stop the harassments, threats, and cyber abuse from Powell.

She said she also contacted the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) but was told that she would have to send her laptop for them to retrieve evidence of travel to the country.

The 58-year-old woman, who reconnected with Powell in 2015, having dated him when she was 19, said she refused to comply out of fear. The case then hit a snag.

“...I started to go public with my story, share it online, and [when it] ended up on the front page of the Jamaica Observer... a special agent from US Homeland Security saw the story and contacted me, and was able to assist in me having the evidence extracted from my cellphone and laptop in the United States and begin the process that way.

“After we did that we were able to begin working with JCF and the DPP to arrest him and bring charges against him, and that brought us to where we are today,” she noted.


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