By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] –Youth Minister Dr. Frank Anthony has challenged any inmate of the New Opportunity Corps (juvenile detention Centre) who has been sexually abused in any way by staffers to make an official police report so that it can be investigated.
He was at the time responding to allegations which surfaced on Tuesday, April 22 where several female inmates who recently escaped from the institution in Essequibo are claiming they were molested by male staffers and older male inmates.
The mother of one of the female inmates had reported to iNews (www.inewsguyana.com) that her daughter, who was taken to the correctional facility for wandering, claims that she escaped following molestation and was subject to further violation after being repossessed four days later.
The woman said that among her grievance is that instead of the staff at the NOC calling on the police to intervene and go in search of the escaped inmates, they used the older inmates at the institution who it is alleged further sexually molested the female inmates before returning them.
In what could be termed setting the record straight, the Minister told a news conference on Wednesday, April 23 that indeed three females escaped from the facility on March 22.
He said “immediately after a church service a female student started to use indecent language which lasted for five minutes… the said student and three female students then ran out the compound,” the Minister explained.
He added that two female supervisors tried to stop them but they continued on their path. According to Dr. Anthony, shortly after four male students ran behind the female students to the densely forested backlands of the NOC.
The Minister said that the police were informed and a search for the seven students proved futile. The following day, three male students are reported to have also absconded to the backlands.
Dr. Anthony pointed to the limited restriction infrastructure at the facility and the treatment meted out to the juvenile delinquents, whom he said are not restricted but treated like students, which make it easy for them to run off.
All eleven students were found on March 24 and were taken to the Suddie Police Station and later to the hospital for medical, according to Dr. Anthony as he refuted claims that neither the police nor parents were informed of incident.
The Minister stressed that no report or evidence was provided pointing to any form of sexual abuse by staff members and at no time male students were sent to assist in bringing back female students.
Presently, three males are at the Suddie Police Station while four males and four females are at the Juvenile Holding Centre awaiting the Court’s decision.
The Minister reasoned that the allegations may not be true and could be an excuse for their continued delinquent behaviour and maintained that anyone with evidence could make an official report to the police and have it investigated.
The Minister said his Ministry is doing a lot of work to improve the lives of these children who were sent to the facility by the Court but noted with regret that these efforts are constantly lost when allegations like these surface.
He reminded of monies set aside in the 2014 budget to construct a fence aback the facility this year and efforts to improve other infrastructure and services.