The self-styled physiotherapist and neuromuscular expert, Jonathan Ohene Nkunim, who has been accused of sexually assaulting his female patients, has been arraigned on a rape charge.
The nervous-looking Ohene Nkunim was escorted into the Kaneshie District Court at about 12:30 p.m. Tuesday by four police officers in plain clothes.
He gazed through the windows, closed his eyes as if in meditation, and mumbled some words as he waited for the proceedings to begin.
“Court rise!” a clerk bellowed after 1 p.m. as the judge, Rosemond Agyiri, emerged from her chamber.
The Police prosecutor, Chief Inspector Richard Amoah, said the accused had been charged with rape, an offence contrary to Section 97 of the Criminal Offences Act. Rape is a first-degree felony and carries a prison sentence of up to 25 years, but not less than 5 years.
The court appearance today was a sitting that did not lack drama.
The prosecutor read the fact sheet in a low, hushed tone, and boldened his voice when he had to pronounce words like “massage”, “insert”, “sex”. He then resumed the reading with the noise level of a submarine.
The judge peered at him with the suspicion of an English teacher distrustful of her student’s reading skills.
After the prosecutor slumped in his chair, Paul Abariga, the lawyer for the accused, stood up like a tower over the court and went after the prosecutor. “This is a charade of facts put together in haste to just arraign my client,” he said.
He pointed out that the fact sheet did not even have the date of the alleged act of rape and lampooned the prosecution for failing to diligently present facts worthy of a trial. He said the victim of the rape failed to report the alleged crime to the police but rather chose a journalist.
And he wondered how the prosecution could come to court when it had no medical report to buttress the criminal charge of rape.
“If this is what will stand trial, then everyone will laugh,” he worked up some emotions and predicted that the prosecution would backtrack on the charge of rape.
“I am assuring this court that the prosecution will come with yet another charge sheet,” he struggled to reconcile the facts of the police with the crime his client has been accused of.
“Where is the medical report?” he demanded, not once but thrice during his response to the prosecution.
The lawyer ventured into biology, explaining that a medical report should confirm bruises on the labia majora, the outer folds of the vagina; and the labia minora, the inner folds.
“Where is the medical report?” he intoned. “Where are the bruises? This is a case that will never be tried,” he taunted the prosecution, explaining that this is “a rape case that is not a rape.”
The prosecutor replied that the facts he had presented were from preliminary investigations and that more facts would emerge as investigations continued. He said the victim had been sent to a medical facility for an examination and a report.
“In our next appearance, the report would definitely be brought. We cannot pursue a rape case without a medical report,” he assured the court while a visibly unassured defence lawyer doubted the possibility of finding medical evidence of rape on a victim allegedly assaulted in May 2021.
Paul Abariga asked for bail for his client, extolling the judge as a “very competent” woman and not a “timorous soul”, one who would see from his point of view that his client was not a flight risk.
The judge suppressed the impact of the adulation by folding her lips into her mouth, perhaps stifling a smile.
The lawyer for the accused, in making a case for bail, accused the police of infringing on his client’s fundamental human rights by holding him beyond the statutory 48 hours allowed for suspects and accused persons. He said Nkunim had been brought before a court six whole days since he was first arrested on September 22, 2021.
The revelation piqued the judge’s interest. “Is it true that the gentleman has been in custody since September 22?” she queried the prosecutor.
“My Lady, it might be true,” the prosecutor said in an attempt at justifying the illegality.
“What is the difference” the bemused judge wanted to know. It was now the prosecutor’s turn to teach some English and obligingly, he explained.
“Might means I am less sure. May means I am highly sure,” he taught the court much to the chagrin of the judge.
“This is not good enough,” the judge expressed concern about the abuse of Nkunim’s human rights.
In her ruling, the judge said she had been “swayed” by the defence lawyer’s arguments for bail. She, however, declined to grant bail and explained that her circuit court did not have the power to grant it.
She stressed that the police should allow the accused the right to confer with his lawyer and also notify his lawyer anytime the accused was to be moved from his cell.
She adjourned the hearing to October 12, 2021, at 11 a.m.
The Fourth Estate, in its investigations, found WhatsApp chats in which Jonathan Ohene Nkunim admitted to having sex with his client without her consent and a recording of a sexual intercourse with the alleged victim.
There is also a confession on tape by the self-styled specialist who also sexually assaulted The Fourth Estate’s undercover agent.
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