Careless Cops! - Man arrested 72 days after 11-year-old reported that she was raped by him
The Police High Command has launched a probe into the conduct of cops in the Clarendon community where an 11-year-old girl was sexually assaulted and is now on the verge of giving birth months after her 12th birthday.
Head of the Criminal Investigation Bureau, Assistant Commissioner Ealan Powell, told The Sunday Gleaner that the probe was launched as it appears that some persons did not follow the rules.
Investigators in the Clarendon community finally arrested one of two men accused of assaulting the girl, Alicia*, last Tuesday after her story was published in The Sunday Gleaner.
This was more than two months after the child was taken to the police station where she made a statement on December 30, 2014.
In explaining the delay in arresting the man, the Clarendon police had claimed that they were instructed by a clerk of the court not to arrest the 52-year-old accused because he had a leg amputated and it would be better that he be allowed to heal at home.
But in a meeting last Wednesday, the three clerks of the court in the area were adamant that they did not give this recommendation to the police, and they were not aware of the sexual assault of the child until it was reported in The Sunday Gleaner.
"The clerks of the court are all attorneys and they have to live by their reputations, so they are livid that this lie was told to the media," said a source close to the court in the rural Clarendon community.
"The first time the clerk saw the file was last Tuesday when the man was brought before the court, and they did not give any instructions to the investigating officer. As a matter of fact, Section 13 of the Constabulary Force Act gives the police the right to arrest and charge, and no clerk of the court could tell the police not to charge the man," declared the source.
It is against this background that Powell says the High Command wants to conduct a speedy probe into the action of the investigators to determine why it would have taken some 70 days for the suspect to be charged while the little girl continued to live next door to him.
In the meantime, the paternal grandmother and aunt of Alicia are among those who are rejoicing that she has been taken into state custody after her story was highlighted in The Sunday Gleaner.
Marion Bennette said she first found out about her granddaughter's pregnancy last December and was among those who sought to get the police to intervene. She and a number of other residents in the community said they knew Alicia was being sexually molested from as early as 2012, but nothing was done when they reported it then.
Bennette explained that Alicia's father is living overseas and the little girl had been living with her until she was in grade three, when her mother came for her.
"I reported the first incident to the police and when the mother called me, she said to me that I want to take her away from her and the police them say she must stay with her," said Bennette.
Alicia's aunt, Melissa, said she, too, called the police back in 2012 to report the suspected abuse of her niece. She also called again in December 2014 when she found out that the girl was pregnant.
"I told them (police) that it would be best if they take her," said Melissa.
Melissa charged that Alicia has not been the only victim of sexual abuse in the community as several of the girls in the district got pregnant before they reached 16 years old.
"This thing has been happening in that community for years," said Melissa, who now lives outside of the area.
She charged that the 52-year-old man suspected of impregnating her niece also made advances at her while she was a child.
After years of witnessing the sexual abuse of children in the area, a social-media group was formed with the aim of informing residents how they can protect their children and change this culture. This group is mostly made up of individuals who have migrated to the urban areas and overseas.
"We met at a physical location some time last month and we called CDA (Child Development Agency) and OCR (Office of the Children's Registry) and they said that we need to write a letter so they can have a meeting in the community," said one group member.
The group, school officials and at least one doctor, also reported Alicia's case to the police, the CDA and the OCR.
Several members of the group, which includes more than 200 residents, told our news team that they are very happy that Alicia is finally being given some attention.
Head of the CDA, Rosalee Gage-Grey, said her office is currently investigating Alicia's story and she is being given psychosocial care.
"If it has been discovered that any of the officers involved in the investigations have been found to be negligent or derelict in their duties, the necessary disciplinary action will be taken," she said in a press release that was sent out last week by the Ministry of Youth and Culture.
The man accused of sexually abusing Alicia did not have legal representation when he appeared in court last Tuesday and bail was not considered. He is to return to court on April 21.