Publisher, editors of Bajan paper charged over sex story

(Barbados Nation) Three senior employees of the Nation Publishing Co. Limited in Barbados were arrested and charged yesterday  after weeks of public debate on a photograph of two students and a story about them having sex in a classroom were published.

Journalist Sanka Price  (left front)  and Editor-in-Chief Roy Morris (left background) as they were led to the Magistrates’ court.
Journalist Sanka Price  (left front)  and Editor-in-Chief Roy Morris (left background) as they were led to the Magistrates’ court.

Publisher Vivian-Anne Gittens, Editor- in -Chief Roy Morris and News Editor Sanka Price were released on BDS$5 000 bail each yesterday after appearing on charges of showing an indecent picture of two minors in the SATURDAY SUN.

The trio was also ordered by Magistrate Wayne Clarke to surrender their passports and appear in the Criminal Court No.2 on March 11.

The charges stemmed from the October 26 publication of an article and accompanying photograph based on the Facebook posting of a cellphone video of two students having sex in a classroom.

There was public outcry from some members of the public questioning the failure to monitor students and the breach of the no-cellphone rule at school. Others criticized the posting of the video and those who continued to circulate it on the Internet. The newspaper was also lambasted for its publication.

Morris, 52, was the first to appear in the dock of the District A Criminal Court No.1 late in the afternoon charged with being an employee of the Nation Publishing Company with responsibility as Editor-in-Chief in the Saturday Sun of October 26 “did show an indecent photograph of … and … children under the age of 18 years, to wit 14 years”.

The charge against Gittens, 62,  was that being an employee of the Nation Publishing on October 26 with responsibility as publisher, in the October 26, Saturday Sun did show an indecent photograph of the two 14-year -old minors. Price, 53, the author of the story, was charged with, being a journalist employed by the NATION on October 26, he “did show” an indecent photograph of the two minors.

CEO and Publisher of the Nation newspaper, Vivian-Anne Gittens (right)  being led away by a police officer after being charged.  At left is Editor Emeritus Harold Hoyte who is also chairman of The Nation Publishing Co. Limited.
CEO and Publisher of the Nation newspaper, Vivian-Anne Gittens (right)  being led away by a police officer after being charged.
At left is Editor Emeritus Harold Hoyte who is also chairman of The Nation Publishing Co. Limited.

All three were charged under the Protection of Children Act and were not required to plead to the indictable matter. They faced the possibility of five years in prison if convicted of the offence. Attorneys Alair Shepherd, QC, and Ezra Alleyne are representing the NATION officials.

A number of senior officials from Nation Publish-ing and Nation Corpora-tion , Editor Emeritus Harold Hoyte and One Caribbean Media  director Dr. Grenville Phillips all turned out to show solidarity with the trio. The local news media also turned out to give extensive coverage to the court appearance.

On Wednesday two boys, one 15, the other 16, went to court on charges of taking indecent photographs of children in relation to the same article. They were released on BDS$10 000 bail to return to court on November 27.

The charges come as Nation Publishing move into its 40th anniversary celebration to mark the founding of the paper on November 23, 1973.

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