Former counsellor sent to prison for five years in foster home rape case

Former counsellor sent to prison for  five years in foster home rape case

A handcuffed Antoine Jermin coming out of the courthouse on January 10 after his trial on rape and child pornography charges. (File photo)

PHILIPSBURG--The Court of First Instance on Wednesday sentenced former counsellor Antoine Jermin (25) to five years in prison for raping a fourteen-year-old girl living at a foster home in Union Farm where he worked part-time. The verdict also forbids him from working with youth for a period of ten years.

The Belvedere man stood trial on January 10 charged with raping a minor entrusted in his care, touching the girl in her private areas against her will, and possession of child pornography.

Alongside his part-time role at the Union Farm home, Jermin had also been employed full-time as a care-giver at another foster home. The child pornography charge stemmed from at least 35 photos and videos found on Jermin’s mobile phone of a 13-year-old girl who lives at this facility.

Some of the time-stamps on these files indicate that they were taken when she was as young as 11, and they depict her naked and engaged in solo sexual acts. One video was seemingly extracted from a WhatsApp video chat between the two, with the defendant declaring that he wanted to have sex with her in the foster home’s laundry room.

Investigators found the 35 files in a folder named after the girl which also contained another 287 photos and videos of her that authorities have not deemed pornographic.

Jermin denied the rape and fornication charges during the trial, but admitted to having the pornographic material in a special app on his phone. However, he told the court that the girl had asked him to store them on his phone for safekeeping because her phone had run out of storage space.

While defence lawyer Shaira Bommel pleaded for Jermin’s acquittal, the prosecutor considered Jermin guilty as charged and demanded five years in prison as well as a 10-year ban on working with youth.

Detailed and consistent

The rape case against Jermin was largely based on the 14-year-old’s statements to authorities and the witness testimony of a teenage boy who also lived in the foster home.

During the trial last month, Jermin told the court that his supervisor had asked him to drop the victim, the teenage boy and his brother to a school party on June 16, 2023.

However, the boys wanted to visit their aunt before going to the party. Although against protocol, Jermin complied with this request. While the boys were inside their aunt’s home, the victim and Jermin were alone in the vehicle for roughly 30 minutes.

She told investigators that Jermin suddenly pinned her hand against her chair and used his other hand to unbuckle her pants. The girl said she told him to stop multiple times. Instead, he used his free hand to enter her private parts.

After the boys came back, the girl said the defendant greeted the aunt warmly and then dropped the group at the school party.

The girl also told police that Jermin had been “eye-balling” her since he started working at the foster home in 2022. She said Jermin had made sexual remarks towards her between then and June 2023 and had even touched her breasts and buttocks.

Some time after the incident, the girl told another foster home staff member about the rape and this person filed a complaint with the police.

Jermin was subsequently fired on July 7, 2023, and police arrested him exactly three weeks later.

One of the boys told investigators that Jermin himself had told him about what happened in the vehicle. The boy also said the defendant related a story about him having seen the 14-year-old naked at the foster home.

During the trial, the prosecutor argued that the victim’s and the teenage boy’s statements were “extremely trustworthy” because they matched strongly on key details. As the girl testified that she had only told the staff member about what happened, the prosecutor asserted that the only conclusion is that the boy is telling the truth.

Bommel, on the other hand, questioned the reliability of the boy’s and girl’s testimony. She highlighted the testimony of another teenage girl at the foster home, who said that the victim often lied, and pointed to the conflicting initial statement the victim had given to police which pointed the finger at someone else, not the defendant.

The judge sided with the prosecution in her verdict, ruling that the youngsters’ statements to authorities were “detailed, consistent and contained authentic observations.”

“For example, the victim describes in detail, from her own knowledge, how the sexual acts started and describes in concrete terms the manner in which they took place,” it was stated in the verdict. “The content of the boy’s statement is essentially consistent with victim’s statement in terms of the nature and course of the sexual acts.”

The mere fact that statements contain contradictions on certain points does not, in itself, make them unreliable, the judge ruled.

“After all, this can be explained by the fallibility of human memory, brought about under the influence of emotions caused by the crime or the passage of time,” the judge said.


Although the court’s guidelines recommend a prison term of three years for similar offences, the judge said she followed the prosecution’s demand for a higher sentence because Jermin had committed two other serious sexual crimes in addition to the rape and “did so while he worked in the foster homes where the victims lived.”

“The defendant has not only seriously damaged the trust that the foster homes and the children had placed in him, he also grossly abused his position in the home,” the judge said in her verdict. “The defendant gave priority to his own feelings of lust, even when the victim told him that she did not want to.”

The Daily Herald

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