FAIRHOPE — Euclyn Ellis, the 21-year-old man accused of second-degree sodomy in connection with a June 28 incident at the Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, Golf Club and Spa in Point Clear, remained in the Baldwin County Corrections Center under a …
FAIRHOPE — Euclyn Ellis, the 21-year-old man accused of second-degree sodomy in connection with a June 28 incident at the Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, Golf Club and Spa in Point Clear, remained in the Baldwin County Corrections Center under a $100,000 bond at press time. Meanwhile notes of support from his native Jamaica poured in to a newspaper Web site.
As of Tuesday morning (July 17), 57 comments, most voicing their opinion that the hotel employee would not have knowingly committed the sexual offense for which he is charged, were posted on www.baldwincountynow.com, the online presence of this newspaper.
The comments were indeed sent from Jamaican I.P. addresses, according to Jason James, who coordinates the site for Gulf Coast Newspapers, the newspaper’s corporate parent.
In what is representative of the sentiment expressed by many who sent comments, a Jamaican identifying themself as linkz wrote, “Euclyn Ellis is and has been a close friend of mine. I have known him for many years now, from the time he started his secondary level education until now. It is indeed a tragedy what has occured. I have known him to be a good dude and a good yawdy. Speaking as a honest friend he should have known better but, there is always more than one side to a story. The question is which is correct. For this to occur in a white man’s country is indeed an issue as justice may not be favouring him right now. Give him a chance the dude made a horrifying mistake indeed. A honest man deserves honesty.”
(Editor’s note: Typical online punctuation and typographical errors have been corrected. Traditional Jamaican spellings and grammar remain intact.)
Cpl. Craig Sawyer, Fairhope Police Department spokesman, said the investigation into the incident continues, and the results will likely be submitted to the next county grand jury to determine if Ellis will be indicted and face trial.
Police say Ellis, who was hired by the hotel through a labor company, allegedly had some form of sexual contact with the 13-year-old daughter of another Grand Hotel employee on resort property during the late night hours. Both Ellis, who was not on duty at the time, and the unidentified girl were not allowed to be on the property without permission, according to hotel policy.
Police officials could not release additional details about the incident.
“The nature of their relationship is something we would prefer to hold until we go to trial,” Sawyer said. “We wouldn’t want to jeopardize his right to a fair trial.”
Asked whether cultural differences or unfamiliarity with Alabama law could be factors in Ellis’ arrest, he added, “When you travel internationally, you’re responsible for following the laws wherever you go.”
It remains unclear whether Ellis actually knew the girl’s age. Sixteen is the age of consent in the state.
Sawyer said, “Anything about her appearance that would make her look older, I’m sure the judge and jury would take that into account. We hear that a lot with age-type crimes. It’s best to know who you’re dealing with and how old they are.”
At this time, no criminal charges are expected to be filed against the girl’s father, who brought her with him to work the night Ellis was arrested. Sawyer said he might have faced arrest for child neglect under different circumstances.
“If he left her alone in downtown Mobile at the height of Mardi Gras, that’s one thing, but a four-star resort is another,” he said. “There are a lot of families staying there — a 13-year-old out there unsupervised is not that big a deal.”
David Clark, Grand Hotel general manager, said it’s much too soon to pass judgment on Ellis.
“I don’t know the circumstances of the allegation,” he said. “Everyone has their rights under the (U.S.) Constitution. It’s in the authorities’ hands. Let the law, the investigation and the facts of the case run their course through the due process.”
It has not yet been determined what punishment, if any, the girl’s father will receive through the hotel’s personnel system.
Clark said, “We continue to investigate and act accordingly as facts are discovered. If we find that (her father) did things he shouldn’t do under our employee handbook, we’ll take care of it. The letter of the law is being followed.”
At the time of his arrest, Ellis was living in a new hotel dormitory built for the hotel’s foreign workers by Lone Oak Properties LLC. The housing, adjacent to Fairhope High School, has been a magnet for controversy since construction began.
Many residents have complained that placing workers from other countries in such close proximity to the high school and future home of Fairhope Middle School was unwise. They contend some workers could pose a threat to students attending classes there.
Sawyer disagreed, saying, “It was an isolated incident. This could have happened no matter where he was housed.” He added workers like Ellis are usually college students who are here to further their education and experience new places.
No one has indicated so far that Ellis has any criminal record, and Grand Hotel officials say each potential foreign employee is screened thoroughly beforehand.
In a statement sent to GCN, Bill Lang, a corporate spokesperson for the hotel, stated, “We have utilized alternative staffing strategies to supplement our local recruiting efforts … As part of our international recruiting efforts, the Grand Hotel partners with U.S.-based organizations that provide international internships and seasonal employment opportunities.”
According to Lang, the hotel’s screening process for foreign workers includes an extensive background investigation into U.S. criminal activity by the Department of Homeland Security, as well as any international criminal activity. Similar checks are performed by an international counterpart agency.
In response to Mayor Tim Kant’s recent request that Fairhope Police conduct their own background checks of workers living in the Greeno Road housing, the Grand Hotel statement continued: “In regards to the release of the names, Social Security numbers, date of births, etc. on the tenants of the employee housing development, we have been advised by local legal counsel that it is inappropriate to disclose such information without written consent of the individuals and/or a court order. By doing so, this activity would be a clear violation of their privacy.”