Anastasia Cunningham, News Coordinator
Agency admits knowledge of 14-y-o murder accused's pregnancy
The attorney for a 14-year-old girl on trial for murder, who gave birth last week, has raised concerns about how the Child Development Agency (CDA) monitors criminal juveniles, after revealing that the agency misled the public when it claimed it had no knowledge of the pregnancy or involvement in the case.
"I personally wrote a letter to CDA advising them that she was pregnant after I was assigned the case last year," attorney-at-law Elham Bogle told The Gleaner yesterday.
"They went to her house and left a message that she was to visit them and when she went, no one (at the CDA) knew about it, and they called me and I told them that someone had come to the house from CDA. So I am at a loss now that they are saying they weren't aware. In fact, it was obvious she was pregnant at each court appearance."
Last week, after The Gleaner revealed the girl had given birth, Dahlia Cole, CDA public relations officer, had told the newspaper that although the agency was aware of the murder case, it was never formally brought into the matter. Cole had said it was not until The Gleaner story was published that the agency became aware that the child was pregnant.
But yesterday, while dismissing Bogle's claim that she had informed the CDA of the pregnancy, the agency admitted it misinformed the public when it said it was never aware the girl was expecting. The CDA now says it became aware of the pregnancy in July.
SEVERE BEHAVIOURAL PROBLEMS
Bogle, who is representing the teen in the murder case, said in addition to the CDA, the Family Court was aware and referred the child to a clinical psychologist at the Bustamante Hospital for Children for severe behavioural problems. She said the CDA had written the referral letter early this year.
Bogle said she was told by the 14-year-old that the father of her child had been shot to death. But, because of other information provided by the girl, the attorney said she was not sure she knew who the baby's father really is.
"When I brought this up in court last month, the resident magistrate said that CISOCA (Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse) may have a case against the father," Bogle said.
The teen gave birth at the Victoria Jubilee Hospital in Kingston last Wednesday.
She was living with her mother in the community of Southside in Central Kingston.
When The Gleaner visited her community the day she gave birth, upset residents were in a heated discussion about the matter and called for the CDA to get involved.
"This is slackness! Dem must coulda check her out an mek sure she under control!" one irate woman had declared.
Yesterday, Bogle said the child's mother could not understand "why she behaves like that".
ASSISTANCE SOUGHT FROM CDA
The attorney said the teen was in dire need of assistance for herself and the infant.
"The mother is not in any job, as such, and myself and the counsellor at Family Court have been giving her money, but we can only assist to a certain point. I also wrote CDA and the United Way asking for assistance," said Bogle.
She added: "Frankly, I don't see what role the CDA serves. I mean, in what circumstance should we call them?"
In a statement last night, the CDA said the information it provided to The Gleaner and which was published last Friday "was not entirely correct".
"Subsequent to the report, we received additional information from our South East Regional Office which indicated otherwise," Prudence Barnes, CDA's public relations manager, told The Gleaner.
Barnes noted, however, that it was at the court appearance in July that it was noticed that the child was in an advanced state of pregnancy.
"The judge deemed her to be in need of care and protection because she was 14 years of age, and, therefore, under the age of consent. The judge then placed her on a supervision order, which means that the child is placed in the care of relatives, and CDA supervises and monitors. This was the first time that the child was placed directly in the care of the CDA," said Barnes.
She said prior to that, the teen was in family care and was on a criminal charge, so she would not have been in the care of the CDA.
The teen is before the court on charges of murdering 21-year-old Crissann Wilson, also known as 'Angel', on July 21 last year.
Wilson, who was two months pregnant at the time, was stabbed to death following a dispute with the teen.
The teen's mother was also charged with conspiracy to murder and accessory after the fact to murder, but those charges were later dropped.
The case is set to continue sometime in November.