By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Crime Chief Leslie James told iNews recently that two police files on alleged sexual molestation and physical abuse at the New Opportunity Corps (NOC) have been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Shalimar Ali Hack for her advice.
According the James, the police still have an active investigation ongoing while it waits advice on what charges should be laid against at least four implicated staffers.
Director of the Child Care and Protection Agency (CCPA), Ann Greene told iNews on June 18 that the Agency has gathered enough information that could see criminal charges being brought against several staffers.
She said then that there was strong evidence to suggest that the acts of sexual molestation and physical abuse do occur at the Onderneeming location.
However when contacted by this online news outfit, Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Jennifer Webster, to whom a report was handed over, says nothing extraordinary was unearthed at the institution.
“As far as I know recommendations for sanctions to be taken against staffer in relation to allegations of abuse were made… you have to understand though that those children are in a juvenile offender institution because of offences committed and they too have rights. The law speaks to protection of children and rights that is why child care was asked to go in and conduct independent investigation.”
The Minister said a copy of the report was handed over to the Minister of Culture and Youth, Dr Frank Anthony, who is directly responsible for the operations at the NOC.
“Like everything else, in institutional care you will find that at some point in time things go wrong and I think in this case that’s what happened but the severity of it only the legal people can say whether criminal charges or anything could be laid,” Webster explained.
The CCPA was investigating specifically the allegations of four teenage girls who were subsequently removed from the institution. The High Court has ordered that the girls remain with the Agency.
The girls were among a batch of students who escaped from the institution earlier in the year, alleging sexual molestation, physical and verbal abuse and ill treatment.
These claims were denied by staff both at the NOC and the Youth Ministry, including Minister Anthony, who claimed that the students were mischievous and were rebelling against discipline by absconding and later justifying that with wild accusations.
The political Opposition had called for an investigation to be carried out into the operations at the institution with the aim of ensuring the environment is conducive for the youths’ rehabilitation.
Currently, the findings of the 2012 fire and breakout at the location are yet to be made public. A preliminary report had recommended that the institution be closed for failure to reform children sent there.
The Youth Ministry had disagreed as it announced massive plans for the upgrading of the institution.