Moral Questions in Teen Rape

Jamaica Gleaner
July 8, 2006

THE ISSUE here is not one of guilt or innocence. That is a matter for the courts. Our concern is with doing what is right and of adults taking responsibility. On the face of it, there was not much evidence of this recently at the Dayton Avenue Church of God, where, ironically, a retired justice of the Court of appeal, Martin Wright, is the pastor.

So we assume that Mr. Wright knows more than a thing or two about temporal law as well as the law of God and the morality of the Christian faith. Which is why we are more than a little bit confused about the behaviour of Pastor Wright and his church in the case of the alleged gang rape of a teenage girl, and the video-recording of the incident by school boys in a van being driven by a deacon of the Dayton Avenue Church. One of the boys is apparently connected to the church.

Two of the boys who were allegedly involved in the case have been detained and the deacon has been questioned. The vehicle is in police custody. The appalling fact, though, is that the police only became involved in this case after they were made aware of the matter by this newspaper, which had come in possession of a copy of the disturbing recording.

It is not that church officials did not know of the incident. They did. Indeed, Mr. Justice Wright conceded that he saw portions of the video.

He did not report the matter to the police, said Mr. Justice Wright, pastor of the Dayton Avenue Church of God, because the deacon had supposedly spoken about the matter to the mother of the victim and the school she attends. And while the deacon was present during the assault, noted Mr. Justice Wright, there was no evidence that he molested the child.

That is perhaps true. But did the deacon intervene to stop it? Did he drive to the nearest police station? How did he help this frightened, pleading girl?

It is significant to recall that this matter has come to public attention because there were people of conscience who were appalled at the manner with which the case was being handled by the Dayton Avenue Church of God and its elders. According to Mr. Wright, the case was discussed at a church meeting, at which the deacon was disciplined. This, we have now been told, meant that he resigned from his church post.

Oh, we should not forget. Mr. Justice Wright tried to find the victim of the assault so that she could get counselling. Unfortunately Justice, Pastor Wright couldn't find her.

It is possible that no criminal offence happened in that car, no breaking of the temporal law. It seems to us that serious moral issues arise here about whether the actions of those who are supposed to have his ear, acted in accordance with the laws of God.


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