Cops Quiz Deacon - Two Teenagers Detained in Child Abuse Case
By Daraine Luton and Keisha Hill
July 7, 2006
POLICE YESTERDAY detained at least one of the boys involved in sexually molesting a schoolgirl, which was captured on tape in the presence of a church deacon who allegedly stood by and did nothing.
This brings to three the number of persons taken in for questioning as the police investigate the incident. The senior church official and the boy who captured the ordeal on video were picked up Wednesday night.
The latest police action comes less than 24 hours after The Gleaner broke the chilling story which has left parents and teachers in shock.
Police also impounded the van in which the incident took place and seized a laptop computer and cellular phones from the deacon's Dayton Avenue Church of God.
Yesterday Detective Corporal Claudette Hepburn, of the Centre for Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse, said the investigation was still at a very young stage.
DEACON WAS DRIVER
The deacon, who has served the Dayton Avenue Church for more than 10 years, was the driver of the van, which is not the property of the church, in which the schoolgirl was molested.
The Dayton Avenue Church of God is run by retired High Court judge, Justice Martin Wright. The Gleaner brought the police in on the matter after obtaining a copy of the graphic video. Justice Wright had said on Tuesday that he had parts of a tape and that his deacon reported the incident to him.
Yesterday a Gleaner team observed a boy being taken away from a school compound by police and placed into a service car minutes after he arrived at the St. Andrew school. Also at the school were the victim, her mother and the teary-eyed mother of the boy held by police.
The school's principal told The Gleaner she was unaware of the incident until yesterday. "It is the first time I am hearing. It is unfolding before my eyes," she said.
Minutes before the principal's utterance though, a member of staff was heard telling a secretary to get a particular boy. "Tell him to come down here right now," the teacher said in a serious tone. The boy in question was the one picked up by the police.
The principal said she believed the deacon to be a "decent man", which was the same view the victim's mother held.
The principal described the St. Andrew school as one that is grounded in strict Christian principles, one that carries out corporal punishment, even for the use of expletives.
Meanwhile, children's advocate and convenor of action group, Hear the Children Cry, Betty-Ann Blaine, has expressed shock and dismay at the incident. "If our children cannot be protected in the Church or by Church members then we are in big trouble," a concerned Ms. Blaine told The Gleaner yesterday.
She pointed to the Child Care and Protection Act which states that adults have a responsibility to report such crimes. She said: "We need to begin to send strong messages across this country that we are not going to put up with anyone who abuse our children."
She also called for a national task force to deal with sexual abuse against the nation's children.
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