Wed | Sep 18, 2019

Moravian Church breaks silence on jailed pastor

Published:Wednesday | August 21, 2019 | 12:36 AM

The Moravian Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands has broken its silence, two years after one of its pastors admitted to having sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 16 years old.

In an advertisement in today’s Gleaner, the church outlined a number of initiatives it has implemented to prevent similar occurrences.

The initiatives include the a child care and protection policy as well as an independent commission to investigate allegations of inappropriate behaviour of past and current staff members. It has also moved to introduce psychological and psychometric testing for all being recruited as well as compulsory training for everyone slated to participate as counsellors at annual summer camps.

Last year March, Pastor Rupert Clarke was sentenced to eight years in prison on two counts of having sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 16 years old.

He was arrested in December 2016 after a police team was on patrol in a community near Santa Cruz observed a parked car that aroused their suspicion. They went to investigate and reportedly found the pastor in a compromising position with a child.

Clarke, 65, was the pastor of the Nazareth Moravian Church in Maidstone, Manchester.

The statement explained that “silence is never an acceptable response”, alluding to the fact that it had not officially responded to the incident despite public outrage while the matter was being tried.

“There are things we would have done differently, given a second opportunity to communicate our response to this tragedy. There is no satisfactory explanation for us not being publicly forthright in condemning it earlier than now. As humans, we are imperfect. We strive to be Christ-like and do the right things at all times. With regards to the atrocious act of a leader purposefully violating the trust and safety of any child, we vehemently condemn this behaviour and stand firmly against shielding any such leader from being held accountable,” the church said.

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com