Canadian man facing rape charge in Bahamas, family says victim has Alzheimer’s

Click to play video: 'Nova Scotia man facing sexual assault charges in Bahamas against senior with Alzheimer’s'
Nova Scotia man facing sexual assault charges in Bahamas against senior with Alzheimer’s
A Nova Scotia man is out on bail after being charged in the Bahamas in connection with allegations of sexual assault against an elderly Canadian woman with Alzheimer's. Her family says it happened while she was vacationing with relatives. Global’s Heidi Petracek has the details – Mar 3, 2024

The family of an 80-year-old Canadian woman with Alzheimer’s disease is speaking out after their vacation in the Bahamas took a horrific turn.

They allege she was sexually assaulted at the resort they were staying at by a guest they say is from Nova Scotia.

The woman’s son, David Ahrens, says the family is shocked by everything that’s happened.

“No one has the right to inflict this much pain and trauma on an 80-year-old great-grandmother who has Alzheimer’s disease,” he told Global News.

Ahrens says he’s speaking out to warn others about the potential dangers when travelling with vulnerable loved ones.

He says his mother, who he is not naming to protect her privacy, was on holiday with other family members at the Warwick Hotel and Resort on Paradise Island, Nassau last month.

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David Ahrens says his 80-year-old mother was on holiday with other family members at the Warwick Hotel and Resort on Paradise Island, Nassau last month. Provided/David Ahrens

According to Ahrens, a Canadian man the group didn’t know introduced himself to the group on Jan. 28, and joined them for dinner. He then entered the same hotel elevator as Ahrens’ mother and sister at the end of the night.

“My sister stepped out and really at the same time was turning to get my mother, and the doors were already closing … and at that point, my mother disappeared,” he said.

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He says the family searched frantically for 45 minutes and hotel staff eventually called local police.

Ahrens says another resort guest, who happens to work with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, joined in the search.

Ahrens says Special Agent Tom Justice found the senior with the accused when the elevator doors opened on another floor. Ahrens says Justice noticed the woman was holding her underwear in her hands.

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“(Justice) pulled him out of the elevator, the police took over, and then my sister reunited with my mother,” he said.

American officials acknowledge the agent’s involvement, stating Justice works out of the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Charlotte Field Office and has been on a temporary duty assignment.

“HSI management is aware of the actions SA Justice undertook while on temporary duty and are proud of the way he went above and beyond to protect the welfare of others. His actions are in keeping with the highest standards of this agency,” Kyle Burns, acting special agent in charge for HSI Charlotte, said in a statement to Global News.

David Ahrens says his mother disappeared after the elevator doors closed, and her family searched for 45 minutes before she reappeared. Provided/David Ahrens

The Ahrens family is now home in Ontario and David Ahrens says his mother is receiving the support she needs.

The public relations department with the Royal Bahamas Police has confirmed to Global News a Canadian man identified as Gordon Wilkie, 61, was arraigned Feb. 2 and charged with the offence of rape. He was then remanded into custody.

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A person close to the investigation told Global News the man arrested at the hotel matches a photo of Gordon Wilkie of Nova Scotia found on social media, who is also featured in an annual report from the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC).

While the school did not confirm that the accused is the same man who works at the college, it confirmed in a statement that an employee is facing criminal charges.

“The College is aware of a case, currently before the courts in the Bahamas, involving very serious criminal charges against an employee,” the statement from communications director Stacey Baillie reads.

“Due to privacy legislation, we cannot discuss individual employees publicly. We can confirm that any employee facing serious criminal charges such as these would be placed on leave while the matter was before the courts and pending the results of an internal review.”

A LinkedIn profile with the name Gordon Wilkie states he has been a “curriculum developer” with NSCC International since 2022, and is quoted in an NSCC annual report describing his work “developing an exciting new program on renewable energy and efficiency in Belize.”

A message sent to Wilkie’s work email at NSCC received an auto-reply stating he is on leave.

Global News has tried repeatedly to reach Wilkie but has not heard back.  The lawyer for the accused in the Bahamas would not comment.

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Meanwhile, the Office of Public Prosecutions in that country confirms Wilkie was released on $30,000 cash bail and that no conditions have been placed on his release.

His next court date in the Bahamas is May 29 for the serving of what’s known as a “Voluntary Bill of Indictment.”

The allegations against Wilkie have not been tested in court.

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