Persons invested in the well-being of 22-year-old Yugge Farrell from St. Vincent and the Grenadines can now collectively breathe a sigh of relief.
The young embattled model reappeared in court today, Monday January 29, where she was granted bail in relation to the abusive language charge filed against her on January 4, in the amount of EC $1,000 and the case adjourned until December 17, 2018.
Her first court appearance was on January 5 when she pleaded not guilty to calling Karen Duncan-Gonsalves, wife of the Finance Minister, Camillo Gonsalves, “a dirty bitch”.
Over the last week, since her rehospitalization at the Mental Health Center in SVG, Farrell has been garnering much support from the region and abroad. On Sunday, some Vincentians staged a protest in Scarborough, Canada next to the SVG Consulate Office. A “gofundme” account was also set up to assist with Farrell’s legal fees. In addition, well known Barbadian criminal lawyer, Andrew Pilgrim has taken over as lead counsel in Farrell’s case.
Today’s court proceedings saw Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Colin Williams introduce a new piece of evidence to the Magistrate — a new medical report testifying to Farrell’s competence to stand trial, after the initial report, prepared by a physician at MHC, was questioned by her former attorney, Grant Connell.
The complainant, Karen Duncan-Gonsalves made her first appearance in court today in regards to the Farrell case. Her husband, Camillo Gonsalves, has still not yet broken his silence on the allegation of the affair between him and Farrell.
All eyes across the Caribbean are watching and waiting patiently to see what twists and turns the Yugge Farrell saga will bring.
Farrell’s story is one which continues to puzzle and even anger those who come to learn of it’s developments. On January 5, 2018, 22-year-old, Vincentian woman, Yugge Farrell went before a magistrate to answer to a charge of using abusive language to Karen Duncan-Gonsalves, wife of politician, Camillo Gonsalves, where it is alleged she called her “a dirty bitch” on January 4.
Farrell pleaded not guilty to the charge and based on an application made by the prosecution, was sent to the Mental Health Centre for evaluation, for two weeks. On her return to court on January 22, Farrell was sent back to the mental facility for an additional week based on reports from a physician that she was “unfit to stand trial”. It was reported Farrell was given anti-psychotic medication without the approval of her lawyer during her evaluation.
On numerous Instagram posts, Farrell alleged that she and Camillo have been involved in an intimate relationship for three years which ended in 2016. A sworn affidavit signed by her mother, Gailene Farrell, and dated January 18, 2018, was posted to social media, explaining she was in fact aware of the relationship between her daughter and Camillo.
The purpose of this article is not to point fingers at the parties involved or decry the judiciary of St. Vincent. Rather the goal here is to underscore how absolutely necessary it is for people of a country to hold their leaders to a high standard and not to hesitate to demand repercussions when they fall below this standard.
This Farrell drama is not the first involving the Gonsalves name. To date, there are at least five allegations of sexual assault leveled against Camillo’s father and Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines since 2001, Ralph Gonsalves. Added to these are defamation suits and other civil court matters brought against Vincentians.
The most high profile involves an allegation of rape by a female police constable, Michelle Andrews, where she claimed she was raped by the PM while carrying out patrol duties at his official residence on January 2, 2008. The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Colin Williams, announced on February 2, 2008 the investigations into the alleged rape were going to be discontinued for Andrews’ failure to provide a written statement, lack of forensic evidence and multiple inconsistencies in her oral statement.
Margaret Parsons, an attorney, also sought to bring a case against the PM claiming she too was sexually assaulted during a meeting with him back in January 2003. Her case never made it to court after the same DPP discontinued the investigation citing lack of evidence.
Other women have also come forward in sworn statements claiming instances of sexual assault against the PM. Twenty-six-year-old, Allison Adams, alleges the senior Gonsalves pushed his fingers into her vagina and groped her about the body during an October 2005 meeting when she went to his office to request assistance with paying arrears on a light bill.
Ivolene Nickie, at 43 years old, gave a statement to Toronto authorities outlining details of a meeting between her and Gonsalves when she was 18. Nickie met with Gonsalves to give a written statement for a case where he fondled her breasts, buttocks and vagina.
Also, fifty-year-old Bernice Samuel said that back in 2004 she visited the office of Gonsalves for help securing a job where she claims he kissed her and touched her body without her consent.
Further to that, an incident of sexual misconduct shocked the region when a raunchy phone conversation allegedly between the PM and a young lady, who has been identified as Nzinda Buntin, was made public, just days after the date was announced for the 2015 General Elections.
It should now be evident, the blame lies not on the back of young Farrell, the older Gonsalves, the younger Gonsalves or the wife, but rather with the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Those who, on December 9, 2015, went out to the polls and chose to cast the majority vote for the Unity Labour Party (ULP) and placed Gonsalves, for the fourth consecutive term, back at the helm of power in the country.
[It is worthy to note the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) is challenging the results of the 2015 General Elections in the High Court.]
For those who argue that Comrade Ralph’s time in office is drawing to a close and a new era of leadership may be on the horizon, note that Camillo holds the position of Finance Minister — ostensibly positioning him as the heir apparent.
This scandal with Yugge Farrell and Camillo Gonsalves, draws a worrying parallel between his actions and those his father has been accused of. Now is the time for Vincentian people to put political loyalties aside and truthfully ask themselves if a Gonsalves type of leadership, one where a leader acts with impunity, is truly what is best for their country?