Crime Chief Leslie James yesterday said that no formal report was made to the Guyana Police Force about the allegations of sexual and physical abuse reportedly committed on inmates of the New Opportunity Corps (NOC) at the facility.
“Nothing formal has been said to us,” James told Stabroek News yesterday when contacted on the issue. However, James did reveal that the police would soon speak with the four girls who were recently removed from the institution by the Child Care and Protection Agency (CC&PA).
Two Fridays ago, the CC&PA was granted permission via a court order to remove the four girls from the facility and they are now in protective custody.
Stabroek News was told that the girls were expected to be interviewed by a multi-disciplinary committee—comprising personnel from both the police and the agency—last Thursday as the investigation got on its way.
According to James, despite reports of the allegations in the media, not even the commander of the Division in which NOC falls was aware of a formal report. He said that instead of the parents of the children going to the police, they went straight to the media. “Nothing has been reported to us by the virtual complainants…,” he said, adding that the Ministry of Human Services, and specifically the department which deals with child welfare, is looking at the matter.
The four girls have alleged to have been sexually and physically abused by staff members at the institution. They also reported that after they had escaped on March 22, boys from the institution would visit their hide out and take food for them but demanded sex in exchange. The girls also told their parents of being placed in what the NOC officials have now said is a “quiet room” but which the children said was the “detention room” where they were made to stay in various forms of undress for long periods. They alleged too that they were denied food while in the room and were given a bucket instead of being allowed access to toilets.
Youth Minister Frank Anthony, who said no report of abuse was made to his ministry, has welcomed the investigation, saying neither the ministry nor the NOC has anything to hide.
He said he had since ordered that the staff members cooperate fully with the investigators and that should anyone be found culpable justice would be served.