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BLYDEN’S BLUNDER! St. Thomas Senator Faces Criminal Charges For COVID Defiance

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Attorney General Denise. N. George announces the filing of a criminal charge against Senator Marvin Blyden for willfully exposing the public to a contagious disease after testing positive for COVID-19.

Following a DOJ investigation. Senator Blyden is alleged to have tested positive for COVID-19 on September 15, 2021, and was ordered to quarantine until September 25, 2021, according to Department of Health officials.

But members of the community witnessed Senator Blyden out at an event at Tillett Gardens, on September 18, 2021, when he should have been at home quarantining away from the public.

DOJ Special Agent Kisha Mitchell of the Virgin Islands Department of Justice worked closely with investigators from the Virgin Islands Department of Health and other agents from within the Department of Justice to investigate the allegations against Senator Blyden. After a thorough investigation, the Virgin Island’s Department of Justice filed charges in the Superior Court late Friday afternoon against the Senator for violation of 14 V.I.C. § 886 – Exposure in a Public Place while Infected with Contagious Disease.

Attorney General Denise George announced “no one is above the law, willfully exposing people from within our community to this potentially deadly communicable disease is not something that should be brushed aside. We all have a duty to protect our fellow Virgin Islanders and elected leaders are not exempt by status or position from following the law.”

The V.I. Code states, “Whoever willfully exposes himself or another afflicted with any contagious or infectious disease in any public place or thoroughfare, except in his necessary removal in a manner the least dangerous to the public health, shall be fined not more than $200 or imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both.

“Senator Blyden has been summoned by the Superior Court of the Virgin Islands to appear remotely on Zoom and answer the charges on October 1, 2021 at 10 a.m.

In February 2020, Senate Majority Leader Blyden wrote to then Senate President Novelle Francis asking him to call a Committee on the Whole meeting of the Legislature to discuss more stringent COVID-19 guidelines for tourists visiting St. Thomas.

“The tourism industry puts us at greater risk than many jurisdictions due to the high volume of daily visitor traffic from around the world. At the same time, our tourism industry is vulnerable to fears raised by the coronavirus, since travel is one of the first things to be curtailed in the face of a global pandemic,” Blyden said.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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