28-year-old woman who was last week sentenced for human trafficking told the Circuit Court that her arrest saved her from her evil common-law husband who subjected her to cruel physical and verbal abuse that stripped her of her dignity.
Venoshia Reeves, a mother of six, said that the case saved her life and that it was the only thing that kept her away from her abusive and controlling partner, 45-year-old fisherman Rohan Ebanks, who himself has been imprisoned for human trafficking.
The couple was arrested and charged with facilitating human trafficking after Ebanks travelled to Haiti in 2010 and brought home a 14-year-old girl after promising her mother that he would send her to school. Instead, he raped and kept the child in his St Elizabeth home for three years.
Reeves, who is unemployed, was given a three-year suspended sentence and fined $50,000, while Ebanks was sentenced to 16 years.
But before the sentences were handed down the court was informed of the abuse to which the former teen mother and high school dropout had been subjected.
Reeves, via a probation report, informed the court that she had been abused physically and verbally by Ebanks who she said treated her like his personal possession.
She said he dictated to her what she could and could not do and caused her not to have a good relationship with her family.
According to Reeves, who had lived in both St Catherine and St Elizabeth with Ebanks, on several occasion she ran away from home but Ebanks always found her and would beat her in front of relatives.
She also said that from time to time he kept her locked up in the house for days.
Reeves said she stayed in the relationship because of the children and because she felt she had lost her dignity.
However, she admitted to poor judgement by getting involved with Ebanks and that she had objected to him bringing in the little girl but was afraid to do anything about it.
Justice Courtney Daye, after hearing the community report in which residents in both parishes described Reeves as an excellent mother and a quiet, law-abiding citizen, along with the probation report which recommended a non-custodial sentence, upheld the recommendation.
The judge said, even though the offence was deserving of a prison sentence, he was going to exercise his discretion as Reeves was a victim of her situation.
Ebanks was sentenced to 16 years for rape, 14 years for human trafficking, and 10 years for facilitating human trafficking. However, the sentences are to run concurrently.
Ebanks was also ordered to pay the complainant $2 million for her pain, suffering and medical expenses.