Why rape, assault and death threat charges can’t stop Kirk Cornish from being MP for North Abaco

North Abaco MP Kirk Cornish was charged with rape, assault, and death threats on Wednesday for alleged abuse of his former girlfriend between January and April. The charges against the sitting Member of Parliament raised a legal question—do criminal charges disqualify Cornish from representing North Abaco in the House of Assembly?

The short answer is that even though Cornish is charged, the two counts of rape, two counts of assault, and one count of death threats against him cannot cause him to resign from the seat.

No law or rule stops him from staying in the House of Assembly while fighting the charges.

Cornish, a first-time MP, after winning the North Abaco seat in the September 2021 General Election, is not legally required to resign from his seat unless he is convicted and sentenced to more than 12 months in prison, according to Article 48 (1)(f) of the constitution.

If pressure from his party and the public builds, he can choose to leave his seat and the vacant seat would then require a by-election–when political parties put forward candidates as replacements for the MP who quit Parliament. Voters from the North Abaco constituency will choose who should succeed him.

In a statement released before his arraignment, Cornish defended his role as the partner in the two-year relationship with Warduia Lightbourne. “The charges are based on allegations which are totally false.

“I am fully confident that the facts which emerge during the judicial process will prove my innocence. I look forward to ending this nightmare…this was a breakup that was manipulated and exploited for political reasons—and nothing more.

“The truth will set me free.”

The charges are embarrassing for the Progressive Liberal Party and have thrust the mp’s conduct into the national spotlight since he also served as parliamentary secretary in the Prime Minister’s office before his resignation on Tuesday night.

While he is not the first sitting parliamentarian to be charged with a crime, it is a practical hurdle that could inhibit the governing party’s campaign in the next general election.

What to know about the woman accusing Kirk Cornish of rape, assault and death threats

The woman who accused Kirk Cornish of raping, assaulting and issuing death threats against her during their two-year relationship, was named in a court document as Warduia Lightbourne.

Earlier in the year when Lightbourne made the allegations, she was never officially identified but remained anonymous with broadcast media only showing her lower extremities as she recounted the horrid details entailing her boyfriend, the first-time North Abaco MP.

She filed the police report in April and Cornish was charged on Wednesday on five counts–two counts of rape, two counts of assault and one count of threats of death. She is expected to testify against him when the trial date is set, which will thrust her into the national spotlight.

Who is Warduia Lightbourne?

Lightbourne’s  Facebook page said she studied medicine in Cuba and pictures show her in a medical uniform as she holds a certificate from the Latin America School of Medicine in Havana.

Friends congratulated her as a pediatrician in 2020.

How did Warduia Lightbourne describe the rape, assault and death threats?

The 35-year-old accused Cornish of raping, assaulting and threatening her between January and April.

According to the claims, Cornish choked her twice near unconsciousness, then poked her in the eye which he excused to be ‘an accident’ while the couple stayed in Abaco.

She alleged he even threatened to kill her family while she watched.

On March 24 while spending time in Nassau together, Lightbourne said Cornish held a knife to her throat and attempted to stab her.

Then on April 4, he ripped off her pants and underwear and forced himself on her. Before leaving the house, the MP said he came by to kill the family but ‘not enough of the family was in the yard.’

She then filed a police report on April 7.

During her conversation with the media in April, she said, “…something has to be done because he needs help, and whatever route that takes, it has to be done.

“I didn’t do this to hurt him. I did this to help him.”

What to Know About the Unnamed MP’s Sexual Assault Probe

When an ex-girlfriend accused a member of parliament of assault and rape over two weeks ago,  authorities never questioned him. Now police are promising to bring him in for questioning this week after their preliminary investigations, Commissioner Clayton Fernander said.

The MP’s questioning will be another chapter in the assault and rape claims after the woman filed a complaint with the police against the ex-lover.

The uncertainty of the questioning process has spurred public debate. This development thrusts him, the government, the police force, and the country into unchartered waters.

What does the woman allege?

The woman who has not been officially identified said she and the MP were in a two-year relationship in which he choked her twice near unconsciousness. Then he poked her in the eye which he excused to be an accident.

She alleged he even threatened to kill her family while she watched.

On March 24 while spending time in Nassau together, he held a knife to her throat and attempted to stab her, she alleged.

Then on April 4, he ripped off her pants and underwear and forced himself on her. Before leaving the house, the MP said he came by to kill the family but ‘not enough of the family was in the yard.’

She then filed a police report on April 7

Who is the MP?

The media has been careful in publishing the MP’s name since he has not been officially named by the police and has not been charged with a crime. But public discourse alluded that he is a member of Parliament representing the Abaco constituency.

When reporters asked Commissioner Clayton Fernander to name the MP who is the suspect in the matter, he said, “The nation knows who the MP is.”

Will the MP be arrested?

Assault and rape are serious allegations. Those allegations levied against a sitting member of parliament are rare and grave, and could spark calls for resignation. Only a handful of MPs have been questioned by police. If he is arrested and charged, he will be the first MP formally accused with such serious offense.

What did the prime minister say?

Prime Minister Philip Davis has remained relatively quiet on the matter, but made his first comment on Saturday, suggesting that someone told him the alleged victim did not wish to press charges against the sitting MP. Davis said he will await the outcome of the police investigation, then he will speak on the matter.

What did the lawyer for the alleged victim say?

The woman refuted claims that she is with-drawing statements she made against the MP. In speaking to the Tribune, she doubled down: “I am continuing my pursuit of justice in this matter, and I will continue to cooperate with the police as they investigate.”

In fact, she retained a lawyer Bjorn Ferguson after the PM’s statement. The lawyer said the victim “expects a professional investigation to be undertaken.”

“At the conclusion of the police investigation, we expect the case file to be reviewed by the Director of Public Prosecution.”

Bain and COI Members Strike $1500 Bail 1 Day After Chaos Erupted in Parliament Square

Lincoln Bain, leader of the Coalition of Independents and eight members of his party were charged and released on bail following a clash with police in Parliament Square on Wednesday.

The group was reportedly detained overnight in jail and was charged before the Magistrates court on Thursday morning, facing a litany of charges including unlawful assembly, obstruction, assault, disorderly behavior and resisting arrest.

The group pleaded not guilty then was released on $1,500 bail.

They walked out of the front door of the Magistrates Court where they were greeted by cheering supporters. Bain and the eight accused were seen embracing the happy crowd which  shouted, “Freedom is a must.”

Bain and some members of the group showed up in Rawson Square on Wednesday to give parliamentarians a copy of their immigration proposal and wound up in a fight with officers after Bain was asked to move from the steps and work within the precincts of the square. 

A senior officer physically removed Bain from the steps when chaos erupted and he was eventually carried away in a police vehicle.

They will return to court on December 1.

They were represented by Maria Daxon and Donna Dorsette Major, both members of the COI.



Dramatic Video Captures Man in Struggle with Police Officer; Shows Total Disrespect for Law

A mobile patrol officer was attacked on Monday afternoon as he struggled to detain a motorcyclist.

The disturbing video circulating social media shows the police officer and the young man in a struggle as motorists tow the traffic line.

In the tense video, police and civilian bikes are strewn along a highway as the officer and the young man struggle in another lane of the street, in what appears to be a traffic stop.

As traffic is backed up and passersby watch the scene unfold, the young man becomes belligerent as he pushes and shouts at the officer.

The officer then tries to detain the man as he grabs him by the jacket.

Seeing the scuffle, a plainclothes officer emerges from the traffic, runs up the lane and onto the scene while armed with a firearm.

He points the gun at the young man, demanding that he adhere to the request of the detaining officer.

The young man surrenders and is restrained on the ground.

The big picture

In recent times, social media have become bombarded with anti-police sentiments and police said they have seen an increase in assaults on officers attempting to execute their duties.

Back in April, Commissioner of Police Ashton Greenslade said most cases on Grand Bahama were during routine traffic stops.

Greenslade said the RBPF warned that violators will be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law.

“I want to address members of the public who seek to break the law. I warn you that my officers will not be complacent in the execution of their duties. Please be mindful that these officers are efficiently trained and will use necessary force to enforce the law,” he said.

Here are the videos: