'He can influence the trial' - Prosecutors explain why they wanted Rupert Clarke case transferred
RUPERT CLARKE, former Moravian minister whose arrest in January triggered the scandal that rocked the local church body, has admitted that he engaged in sex-related crimes involving two sisters below the age of consent.
Clarke pleaded guilty in the St Elizabeth Circuit Court yesterday to two counts of having sex with a person below the age of 16 after Justice Martin Gayle sided with prosecutors and ruled that his trial be transferred to Kingston.
Clarke was released on bail and will be sentenced on March 8 next year when the St Elizabeth Circuit Court will again be in session.
The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions indicated in court that it wanted the venue change for Clarke's trial because the Moravian Church has very strong influence in central Jamaica, particularly in the parish of St Elizabeth.
Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Adley Duncan noted that the 64-year-old Clarke served as a Moravian minister in Manchester and St Elizabeth for several years and suggested that he had the capacity to influence the trial.
Duncan also indicated that there were more than 150 cases down for trial in the St Elizabeth Circuit Court, which sits for just four weeks during the year. As a result, he said it was likely that Clarke would have been placed on trial more expeditiously if the case was transferred to the Home Circuit Court in downtown Kingston.
SISTER CAME FORWARD
The former pastor of the Nazareth Moravian Church in Manchester was formally charged in January after he was found on December 28 last year in a compromising position with one of the victims in a car that was parked along the roadway in Santa Cruz, St Elizabeth.
Her sister came forward after detectives from the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA) began probing the incident.
Heather Murray, former principal of the prestigious the Hampton School, was among several persons who turned up at the St Elizabeth Parish Court for Clarke's bail hearing, a move that Duncan said could be perceived as a show of support for the clergyman.
Nearly three weeks after Clarke's arrest, then president of the Moravian Church in Jamaica Dr Paul Gardener and his former deputy, Jermaine Gibson, were arrested by investigators from CISOCA for carnal abuse and indecent assault.
According to the police, the incidents date back to 2002 when Gibson allegedly had a sexual relationship with the complainant, who was 12 years old at the time.
Investigators also alleged that two years later, Gardener developed a sexual relationship with the then teen.