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ONE of the victims of a self-confessed serial rapist has forgiven her attacker saying we as humans would from time-to-time always make mistakes in life.

The woman, who was just 17 years old when she was sexually assaulted by the man in 2007, said while to this day she still experiences “all types of emotions” because of the assault, she was willing to forgive him for his transgressions.

Even though she was not raped, she was forced to perform oral sex on her attacker, Kester Benjamin, after she entered his “taxi” in Port of Spain to be taken to her Diego Martin home. Benjamin was about to rape her when police officers arrived at the scene and arrested Benjamin, saving her from further assault.

The two addressed each other yesterday before Justice Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds during a virtual hearing when Benjamin pleaded guilty to two offences – grievous sexual assault, and unlawful detention of a female for the purpose of a sexual assault.

His guilty pleas came after his attorneys and those for the State arrived at a plea agreement, in which the recommended sentence was that of 20 years’ hard labour. Benjamin has been on remand for the offence for the past 15 years.

However, this agreed sentence still has to be accepted by the judge.

Benjamin, with the consent of the victim, was first allowed by the court to address her and offer his “apologies” for what he had done.

He said he had taken notice of what was stated in the woman’s victim impact statement that was read by prosecutor Danielle Thompson.

In that statement, the woman said after the incident occurred, she had to stop her academic studies because of the trauma she had suffered.

Every time news surfaced of another woman being abducted, including that of 18-year-old Ashanti Riley and 23-year-old court clerk Andrea Bharatt, the woman said she would be mentally launched back into that night of August 29, 2007, when she was assaulted but was fortunate enough to escape.

Both Riley and Bharatt were murdered after being abducted.

‘Extreme sexual perversion’

In his address to her, Benjamin said he was “very, very, very sorry” for what had taken place, but over the course of the past ten years, he attended therapy sessions and believed he was 100 per cent cured from what he called “extreme sexual perversion.”

“I am sorry to hear that you had to abandon your studies and so on because of me. That part of the statement really impacted on me and I don’t know if when I am out I can help through the court to officer financial support when I start to work to help you if you decide to go back,” he said.

“If it is possible if I can pay some kind of money through the court because it was wrong for me to do what I did that day. There is absolutely no explanation or excuse for it. Please find it in your heart in some way, maybe not now to forgive me for that and I assure you if the court gives me the chance, something like this will not happen again,” Benjamin said.

Benjamin stated it was his intention that whenever he is released from prison to become a counsellor and assist other men who may be suffering from “the disease.” He also asked the court’s permission to apologise to the other women he had assaulted but never convicted for it.

“There are some cases that I won and I did the crime. I don’t know if I can apologise to those people too,” he said.

The request was denied by the judge.

Apology accepted

In response to his “apology”, his victim stated while at first she believed she could not have forgiveness to offer Benjamin, her position has since changed.

She said her family members encouraged her to not participate in any conversation with him, but chose to defy their advice.

In making reference to her victim impact statement, the woman said: “Mr Benjamin, I accept your apology. The part where I said don’t have any mercy, I was in a different place when I wrote that even though it was a little while ago.

“After seeing you, you are a human being. It would be hard to comprehend. It was not a good experience and is still not a good experience. I still feel all types of emotions. I could accept your apology. I would hope that you would use this experience to benefit others in a positive way for young men coming up to understand themselves,” she said.

Further, she said she was certain “the sickness” Benjamin was facing, he did not develop it as an adult.

She went on to add she appreciated the apology Benjamin gave and was hopeful he had actually found a new lease on life.

“I am sure there would be something that could be traced back to your childhood that you may not been aware of that would have cause you to be the way you are, because we all have hang-ups and issues to different degrees.

“I do accept your apology and I hope you have a better life when you are released and you are able to pick up the pieces and you continue to look for purpose in your life and try to be better,” she said.

Benjamin will return to court on April 25, 2022 for a plea in mitigation and for the judge to inform attorneys whether or not she has accepted the conditions of the plea agreement.

Benjamin was represented by attorney Raphael Morgan.


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