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Host of Trinidad TV show fined for showing video

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (AP) – The host of a popular crime show in Trinidad received a fine but no jail time Tuesday for airing a video of a sexual assault that authorities said illegally revealed the identity of the teenage victim.

Ian Alleyne was ordered to pay nearly $4,700 by Chief Magistrate Marcia Ayers-Ceasar, who rejected a defense request to spare him from any punishment. She said the host should have been aware that he was violating the law even though he apparently was trying to help solve the crime by showing the video to viewers of his nightly “Crime Watch” show.

“Ignorance of the law is no excuse and the girl will have to live with the stigma,” Ayers-Ceasar said.

Alleyne had pleaded guilty to three counts of violating the sexual offenses act, a section of which prohibits identifying victims of sexual assault. He said after the sentencing that he accepted the decision and would pay the fine.

“There was never any malicious intent on the part of my client,” defense attorney Om Lalla said. Alleyne, he added, is “contrite, sorry and remorseful and had learned his lesson; his guilt was caused by over-zealousness.”

The host, whose program appears on local station CCN TV6, has portrayed himself as a crusader against crime and corruption at a time when the twin island southern Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago has struggled with both. His show has resulted in a number of arrests and supporters tried to block police as he was taken into custody and briefly detained in April 2012. Fans have also gathered outside the court during his appearances.

Alleyne broadcast the video showing the rape of a 13-year-old girl on three successive nights in October 2011. He never said who made the video or how he obtained it. The victim’s face was partially obscured but authorities said enough was visible that people could determine her identity. One man was arrested after a viewer recognized one of the alleged assailants. That suspect has not gone to trial.

The company that owns CCN TV faces three counts of violating the sexual offenses act as well as violations to telecommunications law. It has denied wrongdoing and is fighting the charges.

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