A teacher who was wrongly convicted of defilement has shared the story of how his troubles begun.
Maxwell Bernieh says he was teaching at a school in Takoradi in the Western Region when the unfortunate incident occurred.
He was just one month in the school and was readying himself for end of term examination when one morning he was dragged to the police station over something he knew nothing about.
At the police station it was discovered a complaint of defilement had been made against him and that was the tipping point of his seven-month struggle.
Maxwell Bernieh says he pleaded not guilty at trial and the case dragged for seven months while he was on remand.
“A month into my arrival in the school, we were getting ready for exams so I had submitted the questions for the exam. I was in the office when two ladies and a guy came ordering me to get into a waiting taxi to the police station. When we got to the station, they told me I had defiled one of the students.
“It wasn’t true because I had just arrived at the school and didn’t know a lot about the children. This particular girl was in class five and I was handling primary 4. I knew her face but didn’t know her name. The story was sent to DOVVSU and we went to court. It happened in 2015. I was charged with defilement and I pleaded not guilty. The trial took seven months and I was on remand throughout the period. She claims I defiled her in the school’s urinal during extra class hours,” he narrated to Takoradi-based Connect FM.
Despite being innocent of the charges, Maxwell Benneh was sentenced to twenty-year imprisonment.
“The judgment came in July 2016 and the court handed me a 20-year sentence. I raised my hand and told the judge that it is not true but the judge said that I could appeal. I don’t know why the judge sentenced me. I was lucky to have the proceedings of the Circuit Court.
Six years into his 20-year jail term, he successfully appealed the sentence through private legal practitioner Martin Kpebu at the Sekondi High Court.
His application was upheld and he was released from prison. He is grateful to God and Martin Kpebu who he says trusted him to fight his case for him.
“I was in Nsawam for some time. There was a CID officer who was not happy with the whole thing. I had a lady friend and I told her to send my document to Martin Kpebu. I knew Kpebu from the media and I felt he was a good lawyer. I told him that I was innocent and wanted him to challenge the case. By the time I got to find Kpebu I had already spent six years. The High Court ruled that I was innocent and that I should have never been jailed,” he said.
He served a word of advice to all men and asked them to be careful with passing sexually suggestive remarks about the ladies in the form of jokes.