Tears, cries for forgiveness and anguish were the order of the day when actress, Rosemond Alade Brown, aka Akuapem Poloo, was sentenced to 90 days imprisonment by the Accra Circuit Court for publishing her nude picture in which she was standing beside her son on social media.
“Mummy please, mummy, I beg you, mummy please,” she sobbed and begged the presiding judge, Ms Christiana Cann, to forgive her.
Her cries, and pleas from her lawyer, Mr Andrew Vortia, and other lawyers in the courtroom, were, however, not enough to stop the court from slapping a custodial sentence on her.
The judge held that it was necessary to impose a custodial sentence on Akuapem Poloo to serve as a deterrent to those who continue to post obscene images.
She stated that the prevalence of publication of materials had the potential to corrupt public morals, affect the best interest of children, violate the right to privacy, as well as the country’s moral image needed to be curbed.
The actress pleaded guilty to the publication of obscene material contrary to the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29), engaging in domestic violence, namely a conduct that, in any way, undermined another person’s privacy or integrity, contrary to Section 1(d) (iii) and 3(2) of the Domestic Violence Act, 2007 (Act732), and engaging in domestic violence, namely conduct that, in any way, detracted or was likely to detract from another person’s dignity and worth as a human being, contrary to Act 732.
She was sentenced on her own plea, 90 days for each count, to run concurrently.
Brown had initially pleaded not guilty to the charges, but changed her plea to guilty last Tuesday.
The court, however, deferred the sentencing to yesterday to allow for a pregnancy test to be conducted on the convict in compliance with section 313A (1) of the Criminal and Other Offences (Procedure) Act, 1960 (Act30).
The pregnancy test came out negative.
Per the case presented by the prosecution on June 30, last year, Brown, as part of the celebration of her son’s seventh birthday, posted her nude picture on her social media handles in which her son was looking directly at her.
The caption beneath the picture read: “I am naked in front of you because this is how naked I was giving birth to you, so in case you find me lying somewhere, don’t pass by, but see me as your mum who brought you to life”.
The picture attracted many comments on social media.
Brown ended up in the clutches of the law following a complaint lodged to the police by the Director of Child Rights International Ghana, Mr Bright K Appiah.
Plea for mitigation
Counsel for Brown, Mr Vortia, in his plea of mitigation against a custodial sentence for his client, argued that Akuapem Poloo was a budding actress and a first-time offender, adding that “a custodial sentence will kill her career entirely.”
It was also his plea that his client was a single parent and the breadwinner of her family hence a custodial sentence would inflict more punishment on her son.
Again, counsel argued that first time offenders should be given a second opportunity to reform.
Mr Vortia also prayed the court to consider the fact that his client pleaded guilty simplicita which did not waste the court’s time.
He argued that Akuapem Poloo’s choice and style of dressing had also changed ever since she was first arraigned.
“She has pulled down the nude pictures and apologised to both the public and her seven-year-old son,” he said.
To further firm up his arguments against a custodial sentence, counsel again invited the court to consider media publication about his client’s charity works with a recent one being undertaken at her alma mater.
For her part, the prosecutor, Chief Inspector Agartha Asantewaa, who also prayed against custodial sentence, said the actress was not known to be a troublemaker.
In passing sentence, the judge said she took all the mitigating factors into consideration.
Ms Cann, however, expressed concern about consistent abuse of children in the country, and the incessant rise in publication of obscene images.
Justifying a custodial sentence, she held that Brown did not only infringe on the rights of the child with the publication, but it morally corrupted those who saw the post and also cost the pride and dignity of the country as a whole.
“The court is bothered with posting nude photos on social media. There is no doubt that apart from the canker of rape, defilement, physical assault, the publication of obscene materials is on the increase.
“There is, therefore, the need to uphold our societal values and deal with this canker. The best interest of the child shall be the primary concern of the court,” Ms Cann said.
She asked: “Did she ask for the permission of the child before posting the said picture? Did she respect the child’s rights?”
Providing an answer to the questions, the judge said: “No she did not.”
The judge further noted that Akuapem Poloo had a basic responsibility for the development of her son but rather infringed on her son’s best interest, right to privacy and dignity.
Ms Cann added that sentencing of Brown must not only be punitive but must serve as a deterrent to society.
“A custodial sentence will serve as a deterrent,” the presiding judge held.