Thu | Nov 23, 2017

Cops arrest pastor caught in car with 15-y-o girl

Published:Friday | December 30, 2016 | 12:00 AMMark Titus

The leadership of the Moravian Church in Jamaica is separating itself from the alleged actions of a veteran clergyman accused of committed sex crimes.

According to reports, about 9 p.m. Wednesday night, the police were on patrol in a community near Black River, St Elizabeth, when they observed a parked car that aroused their suspicion. On investigation, the pastor, who is the minister at a Moravian Church in Manchester, was reportedly found in a compromising position with a child.

He was immediately taken into police custody on suspicion of rape and carnal abuse of the girl who turned 15 years old last Friday.

"I have read the allegations, and it is a very sad day, but all I can say is to let the law take its course," The Reverend Dr Paul Gardner, president of the Moravian Church in Jamaica, told The Gleaner yesterday.

"If charged and he is found guilty, the church has no option but dismissal from the church ... there is no two ways about this.

"We take this very seriously, and if these charges are found to be true, we have no other recourse," said Gardner, who is also president of the Unity Board of the Worldwide Moravian Church.

"We never, ever condone such behaviour.

"We have a code of ethics to which all our ministers subscribe, and we also have our own discipline and grievance procedure."

According to Gardner, the senior pastor with 30 years' experience and all of the leadership of the local body are exposed to regular and intense training sessions to deal with, among other issues, maintaining boundaries, healthy relationships, and guarding one's integrity.

"So when something like this happens, it is a slap in the face," he added.

"Since we heard, the morale of the staff is low. It is affecting all the ministers and the church community."

Superintendent of Police Lansford Salmon, divisional commander for St Elizabeth, told The Gleaner that the pastor was still being questioned by investigators but was likely to be charged yesterday evening.

The Gleaner has also learnt that the police have since widened their investigation and are now interviewing relatives of the child.

mark.titus@gleanerjm.com