Thu | Aug 24, 2017

'The shame is yours' - Details of a damning email which has rocked the local Moravian church to its core

Published:Sunday | January 15, 2017 | 1:00 AMErica Virtue

As more sordid allegations related to sexual misconduct in the Moravian Church in Jamaica and Grand Cayman come to light, The Sunday Gleaner has seen allegations from a woman who claims she was abused by two ministers of the church.

The woman has released allegations of her ordeal to the leadership of the church in Jamaica, breaking what she says was her promise not to go public with the details of the affair.

According to the woman, she decided to break her promise last Sunday after she journeyed to Nazareth Moravian - the church of Rupert Clarke, who was arrested on sexual abuse charges - because of the way the church has dealt with the issue.

The accuser said one of her starkest memories of the sexual abuse was the statement from one of her abusers, "I have always been curious about an exchange of saliva with you."

In her emailed allegations, she told the leaders of the church: "I remember it because I had never heard anyone describe a kiss in those terms ..."

 

Told minister's wife

 

In her email, the woman claimed to have told the minister's wife about the affair with her husband after text messages exchanged between them were discovered by the wife.

"I sent her a text message in which I tried to explain what had happened, and that on my end it was a childish attraction that went too far. In her response she said, among other things, that she thought I was a girl and that it was unchristian to have her husband.

"She said I was to leave him alone, he was hers. I responded to her that nothing I did made me more or less than a girl. She proceeded to ask why I had slept with her husband. I told her I hadn't, that we had crossed a line but that I hadn't slept with him, and she told me he had confessed ...," the woman claimed in her email.

"I was confused because up to that point there was a lot of sexual touching but no penetrative sex. I was 14 and a virgin, and the first and only attempt at sex at that time was in a car. He could not penetrate me. He called me the next day upset that I had spoken to his wife, and told me that she played me. For months after that we did not communicate ... .

"I cannot recall what led to his wife discovering for the second time that we were in contact. But this time things blew up. I later learnt through (the minister) that his wife had told the bishop. (I think his name was ...)," continued the email, as the woman named a former senior member of the church.

According to the woman, while there was a lot of sexual touching between herself and the minister, he did not penetrate her at age 14.

"It was the beginning of an experience that lasted for just about two years from age 14 to 16 ... I remember going to a house belonging to his wife's aunt ... I remember going to the manse at Moravia and the one at Bethabara, most of which took place when his wife was overseas ... or was away with family ...

"He took my virginity at 15 in the house ... that belonged to his wife's family ..." added the woman.

She said attempts to reach out to the minister's wife as an adult were also rebuffed, and the minister told her to stop as his wife detested her.

Recounting her experience with another minister with whom she sought counselling, specifically about her sexuality, she said her relationship with the first minister was discussed.

"I remember a hurricane devastated the manse ... I was in Christiana the day (the minister) called me and told me he was in Manchester and that he was heading to look at the property. He invited me to join him, we could talk more about the issues we had discussed before via phone ...," the woman claimed.

"... As I was heading downstairs I missed my step and he held on to me. In that moment I remember my back connecting to the wall as he kissed me and began to unbutton my blouse. I remember the light blue bra that I was wearing. I remember the way his body moved against me and I remember my silence. And then he stopped ...," she wrote.

"... He offered to take me home and I went into his vehicle that was parked close to the manse. We sat in the car for a moment with no words between us until again he started fondling me, and before I knew it he was in the passenger side with me. I felt his erection, he undressed me, and shortly thereafter he penetrated me.

"I never consented, but in my shocked state I never resisted, I cooperated. When he faced me, he realised my face was wet with tears. He immediately stopped and then begged me to forgive him. He said he didn't know what came over him, that he couldn't believe I was 15. He drove me home. I answered with the words, 'don't worry, I won't tell your wife'."

The Moravian Church has established an independent commission to investigate the allegations made in the email.

erica.virtue@gleanerj.com