Gordon-Harrison says cops yet to approach her office for statements in CPFSA probe
Children’s Advocate Diahann Gordon-Harrison has indicated that the police have not yet approached her office for witness statements or with requests for interviews since it tabled the report flagging the Child Protection and Family Services Agency’...
Children’s Advocate Diahann Gordon-Harrison has indicated that the police have not yet approached her office for witness statements or with requests for interviews since it tabled the report flagging the Child Protection and Family Services Agency’s (CPFSA) relationship with Carl Robanske.
Robanske, who is the founder and CEO of a United States-based charity called Embracing Orphans, had his teaching licence in the US suspended due to inappropriate conduct with a minor.
The report produced by the Office of the Children’s Advocate, which was tabled in Parliament earlier this month, was also forwarded to the police for further investigations to determine whether charges could be laid against anyone who is believed to have abused or facilitated the abuse of children.
Speaking with The Gleaner on Thursday after giving a keynote address at the launch of the Kiwanis Club of North St Andrew’s Sensational Solar Raffle at the Matthew 25:40 Home in downtown Kingston, Gordon-Harrison said that her office has a responsibility to bring to the Parliament’s attention any adverse findings relating to breach of conduct or breach of duty when it conducts a probe.
“And that’s exactly what we did,” Gordon-Harrison said.
“Our legislative mandate and our responsibility can go no further because the law does not allow us to go any further, so we have done our bit, and this can be likened to almost a race, a relay with a baton to be passed on. We have run our leg of the journey in keeping with our statutory mandate,” she said.
The OCA reported that despite the concerns surrounding Robanske, he was still allowed access to wards of the State at the St James-based My Father’s House, which was established and heavily funded by his Embracing Orphans charity.
In addition, the OCA further reported that even after 2018 when the CPFSA became aware of his inappropriate contact with a minor in 2018, Robanske was allowed full access to the wards, some of whom were minors.
The OCA also reported that attempts were made to frustrate its investigations into the matter. The entity recommended that a named manager and house mother should be reassigned “as they have been actively reinforcing to the girls that they should not cooperate and further, that the instruction originated from the CEO of the CPFSA”.
Youth Minister Fayval Williams, while delivering a statement in the House of Representatives on January 10 regarding the matter, said that CPFSA CEO Rosalee Gage-Grey was asked to step aside.
Gage-Grey has not resigned.
Minister Williams told the House that when the ministry learned of the suspension of Mr. Robanske’s licence through the media in March 2021, she gave an “unambiguous directive” to the CEO of the CPFSA to sever its partnership and collaborative work with Embracing Orphans and Carl Robanske.
The CPFSA did not end the relationship with Robanske.
Embracing Orphans had a long-standing relationship with CPFSA to provide transitional facilities for young girls preparing to leave state care.