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Friday, 04 August 2017 07:43

Ex-TT Olympic sprinter jailed Featured

FORMER TT sprinter Ato Modibo Stephens has been sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment in the Cayman Islands, after being found guilty of misuse of an ICT network, at the end of a trial regarding allegations that he acted inappropriately with a 14-year-old female athlete. Stephens was found not guilty of two counts of indecent assault and one count of gross indecency.

The verdict and sentence were handed down by Judge Michael Wood in the Cayman Islands Grand Court yesterday. The judge said that based on the evidence presented, he found enough inconsistencies to cause reasonable doubt regarding the gross indecency and indecent assault charges.

The prosecution claimed that Stephens had requested nude photos from the teenager who he trained. The judge also noted there was a lack of investigation by police when the issue was first raised, including that some witnesses were only interviewed close to the trial. The trial was heard by the judge alone.

Stephens will be deported upon the completion of his sentence.

Stephens, 38, represented TT at multiple Olympics and is married to Cayman Islands sprint queen Cydonie Mothersill, who won gold in the 200m at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

During the trial, police interviews from the girl were played in court.

In those, she detailed how Stephens sent her WhatsApp messages requesting nude and semi-nude photos. She said she sent some of her wearing only her underwear but never nudes. Stephens acknowledged he did this and apologised, saying he was not sure what motivated him to do so.

He said he started messaging the athlete after he saw her demonstrating what he considered to be flirtatious behaviour. The former coach said this began after a meet in which the girl did not win a medal and was feeling down.

However, Stephens was adamant that he never touched the teen inappropriately, despite her allegations that he groped her while in his vehicle on the way home from practice.

As an athlete, Stephens represented Trinidad and Tobago at the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Olympics but never advanced beyond the heats. He also ran at the IAAF World Championships in 2001, 2005 and 2007. He got a bronze medal for his home country at the 2003 CAC Championships, and took the silver at the 2005 edition.

He was banned from competition for two years after failing a drugs test at an international competition in May 2009, testing positive for Oxandrolone and Stanozolol, both steroids, as well as Tamoxifen, a testosterone- boosting drug.

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