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Aug 21, 2012

Croc Couple sues government under Riot Act and wins

Two years after their crocodile sanctuary was destroyed by an angry mob, Vincent and Cherie Rose are rebounding. The couple lost everything when their property was set on fire in Toledo when two children, who were never found, disappeared without a trace. The Roses moved to San Pedro to pick up the pieces and rebuilt the sanctuary in Ladyville. But because they could not sue the mob, they took the government to court under the Riot Compensation Act. The court decided on Friday. Earlier today News Five’s Isani Cayetano visited with the couple in San Pedro.


Cherie Rose, Co-founder, American Crocodile Education Sanctuary

“It was just a little before noon when the Punta Gorda Police called us and told us not to bother coming home because there was nothing left to come home to.”


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The road to recovery for the Roses, Vincent and Cherie, has been an arduous journey.  On September fifth, 2010, the couple’s home, as well as a research facility they founded, dedicated to the study and rehabilitation of native species of crocodiles was eviscerated during a wanton act of arson.


Vincent Rose

Vincent Rose, Founder, American Crocodile Education Sanctuary

“All that had happened absolutely destroyed everything I was and everything I created.  I was basically stripped of everything I ever cared for, owned, bought, purchased, built, spent, the whole thing I was stripped.”


That forceful removal, a loud and clear message sent by an angry mob of villagers, predominantly of Mayan descent, was later attributed to the false prophecy of a fortune teller, who envisaged that siblings Onelia and Benjamin Rash had been abducted by the Roses and fed to the captive reptiles.


Cherie Rose

Cherie Rose

“They looked to something.  They looked to their psychic.  That’s their culture, obviously.  That’s what they believe in, obviously.  It already led to the destruction of a civilization at another time but to take the law into their own hands that was wrong.  No matter what they believed that was very, very wrong.”


On the morning of August thirtieth, 2010, Ben and his younger sister, Onelia, set out from their home in San Marcos Village en route to Punta Gorda Town to sell fruits in preparation for the upcoming school year.  They simply vanished.  In the wake of their disappearance no stones were left unturned, as a massive search effort was launched in an attempt to find them.  The hunt led to the American Crocodile Education Sanctuary, where a busload proceeded to plunder and set fire to the property.  Cherie was here in San Pedro preparing for the opening of another safe haven on the island.


Cherie Rose

“When we asked about the crocodiles they said they couldn’t tell because the fire was so hot [that] they couldn’t get around to the seaside to check the habitats for the crocs at that time but most likely most of them were probably killed.  We were actually eating breakfast with the three crocs, ready to return home when we got the call and our first thought was [that] we gotta let these crocs go now.”


The couple migrated to Belize from the United States in 2004 and invested tirelessly in the establishment of ACES.  The devastation would claim the lives of eighteen confined crocodiles, as well as a number of hatchlings.  It would also plunge Vince and Cherie’s marriage into turmoil.


Cherie Rose

“It was like being put in prison, no money, no job, no clothes on your back.  I mean we came back to the island and we had people giving us, here’s some used underwear, you know.”


Vincent Rose

“Was the strain enormous? Yes.  Was the guilt enormous? Yes.  The pain and suffering we had to share.  Did we blame each other at times during the process? Yes.  The whole thing [was] ugly.  At the end of the day it’s made us stronger and rely more on each other and trust each other’s judgments even more so because during this whole time I refused to believe my wife telling me people are calling me right and left [telling me] that they’re gonna go burn your house down.”


In the wake of the fire, an understandably livid Vincent spoke with me.  Almost a million dollars in property had been damaged.  He threatened legal action to recover his losses and eventually followed through on his words.


Vincent Rose [File: Sept. 7th, 2010]

“My whole life is ruined and so is some of Toledo’s tourism now. The Maya community should be ashamed of itself. They burned the wrong man’s house down and destroyed a future entity for their own Toledo District.”


Isani Cayetano

“Do you plan on taking any legal recourse against anyone who may be found culpable of committing the crime of arson on your property?”


Vincent Rose

“Arson, attempted murder, trespassing, all the above, yes I will be taking very strong measures.”


On August seventeenth, Justice Oswell Legall ruled in favor of the Roses, who had brought a claim against the Government of Belize under the Riot Compensation Act in 2011.  The couple was in dire straits financially and urged local attorneys to take on the case pro bono.  Agnes Gillett-Segura, of Arnold & Company, volunteered to represent them.


Vincent Rose

“We knew that we had a solid case no matter what.  Was Belize willing to listen to it was the question.  And in the end, so far the judge saw the overwhelming and beyond a reasonable doubt the evidence that those villagers did riot and did torch our place down.”


It’s been almost two years later and things are looking up.  In Ladyville, Vince and Cherie have managed to establish a large-scale facility which they launched in October of last year.   Since the incident they have relocated to San Pedro where they recently identified a small plot of land in Boca del Rio to set up a small crocodile rescue operation.  Earlier today, I accompanied the husband and wife team on an expedition to release two juvenile crocs into a nearby lagoon.  They anticipate that like their marriage, these young reptiles will also survive the rigors of life. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.


As to the issue of compensation, the Roses will wait until December fourteenth when the court will make an order.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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18 Responses for “Croc Couple sues government under Riot Act and wins”

  1. I Belize it says:

    Was the psychic convicted?

    How about those arsonists caught on video?

    Nothing happens because the GOB is impotent?

  2. Rod says:

    What about the children they surely didn’t win they were eaten by these crocks and no one is saying anything about them Belize is truly being Americanized to the extent that even belizeans are caring more about animals than people . so sad that no one is speaking out for the children and these Americans have not once spoken out for these children all they care about is their house well I do believe these children were eaten by the crocks the roses were harbouring.

  3. Rod says:

    So if any monies is won by these Americans the money should at least go to the poor parents of these children whose kids were eaten by these crocks that the roses were harbouring .

  4. surgery14E says:

    How do you know this Rod? Did you see them being eaten by these crocs? They should also sue you for slander and defamation of character. You also need to learn how to spell. Ever heard of a dictionary?

  5. now i see says:

    I think Bert Vasquez got them.

  6. wayne says:

    so u wud be ok with people burning down ur house and eventually killing u or family members just because a weird freak told an angry mob that your dogs have eaten some missing kids ?
    Rod, stfu !

  7. jungle says:

    these americans should know how to talk because, they don’t want to insult them but like Rose in his word to the mayan people calling them pigs and animals, is that proper, why do he have to come and live here in Belize , between pigs, what ever he says, we all know that the childrens were fed to the croc. by him he do not have mercy, he is the worest criminal

  8. Rod says:

    They should a mi perform surgery pan these crocks fu find these innocent children why wasn’t this done o I forgot the crocks mean more than the children well to the parents of these children sue the roses for your children’s death now we can’t prove that these crocks didn’t eat them so I think since the roses can’t prove that the crocks didn’t eat the children they should give half the money to the parents of these children that is the only right thing to do. Do the right thing roses.

  9. Storm says:

    Riot Compensation Act? I never paid attention to it before, butmaybe itcan be used to rebuild the southside, just let rioters brun it down, and present the bill to GOB.

    Much more important: have police totally given up on investigating the disappearance, and probable death of the poor Rash children? Whatever happened to them, and whoever is guilty for it, the children are the victims here, far more than the Roses who lost money.

    I feel Hon. Saldivar should assign some of the best and brightest police to take a new look at what happened to the Rash children.

  10. Archer Wailer says:

    What are the qualifications of the Roses to run a crocodile sanctuary? She was a snowboard instructor. He has a Bachelor’s degree. Neither of them has ever even worked in a zoo. Where did all the millions of dollars come from to build the facility in Toledo? How were their entire lives ruined by this incident? The kind of prejudice and insensitivity they have shown after the arson (which nobody can condone) goes a long way towards explaining why they were victimized in the first place.

  11. RogerM says:

    We do not need a crocodile sanctuary in Belize. There are too many crocodiles in their natural habitat here.
    Stupid white people believe that the animals are worth more than the local people of this country so we will always have problems with them.
    Mr. Rose did not prove that he and/or his crocodiles are not responsible for the children’s disappearance. Due to the well-established practice of discriminating against certain races and the economically disadvantaged local people, a proper investigation was not conducted to prove or disprove any suspicion.
    Some media houses have stated that the crocodiles at the sanctuary were not responsible for the disappearance of the children. If they are able to say that then it means that they know who is responsible. As far as I know there has been no credible eye witness to state who is responsible or who is not. If Mr. Rose has hired a witness, we should all know that a hired witness is not a credible witness because that witness is working for money.
    In addition to that, Mr. Rose was operating the sanctuary irresponsibly because he leaves the hungry animals unattended for extended periods of time without a caretaker to ensure safety and security in the area.
    Why did he choose Toledo District for his irresponsible practice? Because he, like many others, think that the poor Mayan people are disposables.

  12. marie says:

    If those americans don’t want to be around mayans, then they should go home. Those people are pathetic. Their lives weren’t ruined, they are still alive. Those 2 childrens who lost their lives are ruined. Completely pathetic that they are acting like poor victims when they are extremely wealthy.

  13. I Belize it says:

    The only connection made between the crocs and the kids, was the psychic who pulled it out of her A$$ when she got paid to say something. Of course I believe psychics are more factual than anything, including the bible, better than the word of God. In the last five years the psychics have moved into Toledo saying all kinds of things to parents about their kids to get money out of them, bunch of leaches feeding off scared parents.

    As for location, it is ten miles away straight across swamp and jungle from where the kids were last seen, and lot more to drive, more easily take a boat. It was rural on a river near the sea, not easy to get to, not a place for people wandering by to hang out, there are already crocs in the area, listen to Paul Nabor’s music.

    The Roses were working with the GOB on some projects paying their own way.

    Reading these posts, I doubt any have been to Toledo or know what is going on. Seems like a lot of jealous racists, like Rod, who can’t can’t get the facts so they invent them.

    As for me, I do NOT know the Roses, never met them, never been to their place, and never heard of it until this disaster. As for the kids, odds are somebody that knew them got them, it is usually how it happens. Although there was a similar case in Guate a few years back where the kids went missing for a couple years, turned out they had run away. Don’t think crocs got them just because of some illegal idiot psychic said so. But Rod does, because that is all he gots.

  14. JusticeLeague says:

    Hi Jim Jensen and Friends!!! (waving!!!)

  15. Amber says:

    RogerM…I agree!

  16. Ally says:

    I personally know the Rose’s Vince and Cherie, They are INCREDIBLE people! They were not even in Punta Gorda when the kids disappeared. The “Psychic” got exactly what was coming to her and she died. The Mayan people think they are above the law in every respect! I am very happy to hear that the Rose’s finally got justice in this case. Unfortunately, the Mayan people who committed this unlawful act of riot got away unpunished. Shame on the Gov’t of Belize and the Punta Gorda Police. I have spoken with a few Mayan people from the village of San Marcos in the Toledo District and a few of them know that Vince and Cherie did not take the kids. Of course anyone is sad when someone disappears, it is just a shame that a real investigation was not done or even possible in the Punta Gorda Town of Belize.

  17. Ally says:

    “In addition to that, Mr. Rose was operating the sanctuary irresponsibly because he leaves the hungry animals unattended for extended periods of time without a caretaker to ensure safety and security in the area.
    Why did he choose Toledo District for his irresponsible practice? Because he, like many others, think that the poor Mayan people are disposables.”

    In response to the above comment by RogerM, the Rose’s did not leave the sanctuary unattended they had a “watchman” on site. It is so unfortunate that “Poor, disadvantaged, Mayan People” as RogerM describes, have to run to judgement on the word of a Wacko Psychic, At least I hope they learned a lesson and perhaps move “logic and reason”, rather than “superstition” to solve other issues in their lives.

  18. Nyra says:

    The fact of the matter is that no one is in any position to point fingers at the Rose couple. There is no evidence tying them to the disappearance of those children. It is disappointing that the their (Mr.rose and Mrs Rose) names where dishonorable use by the public.What ever comment Mr Rose made about the Mayan population is understandable. Actions speak louder than words and their action spoke a whole lot. It is not about taking sides but right is right and wrong is wrong. FACE THE FACTS!!!!!

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