Sex Offence Protocol for Churches - Document in Embryonic Stage, Says Archbishop of Kingston

Jamaica Gleaner
July 15, 2006

Spurred By the recent sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl in the presence of a church deacon, the Jamaica Council of Churches (JCC) is in the process of formulating a protocol to aid churches in dealing with sexual allegations brought against its members.

Right Reverend Lawrence Burke, Archbishop of Kingston, made the disclosure yesterday after a press briefing staged to announce plans to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the St. Benedict's the Moor Catholic Church.

The event was staged at the church's Chancery office at Hopefield Avenue, St. Andrew.

"At a meeting of the Jamaica Council of Churches yesterday (Thursday), we suggested that we try to develop a procedure, that we would share with all of the churches, suggesting how in cases like this, how they should go about investigating it and their reaction..." the archbishop revealed.


Archbishop Burke disclosed that the protocol is in a very embryonic stage and would take some time to formulate and distribute.

One of the points, he said the protocol would emphasise, is that the law of the land must be observed.

However Archbishop Burke said the JCC was not decreeing that the pending protocol on "handling cases of sexual abuse" is mandatory and must be adapted by every church.

"The most we can do is share with the churches, and each church will have to decide if they want to use it or not," he explained.

Additionally the archbishop suggested the officials in charge of the Church Dayton Diamond Ridge blundered in its handling of the recent incident where its deacon, Donovan Jones, allegedly watched while at least two boys sexually molested the teenage girl.


"I would have hoped that from the experience of what the Catholic Church went through in the States, and how badly they handled the cases there, that churches all over the world would have learnt from that example and learnt how to handle the case in a better way," the archbishop said

He added: "As the Catholic Church did they seemed to be more interested in protecting themselves than in trying to really understand what happened...protect the victim and condemn the act."

Archbishop Burke also chastised media houses that aired footage, audio clips and published photographs from the tapes showcasing the heinous crime after The Gleaner broke the story last week.

"I don't see anything positive coming out of something like that. I think they were very irresponsible too," he said.


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