Police investigators will be focusing on the alleged sexual abuse of a 15-year-old boy committed by a city constabulary officer two months ago and not on the failure of the Mayor of City Council (M&CC) of Georgetown to report the case in a timely manner, ‘A’ Division Commander Marlon Chapman said yesterday.
Police on Tuesday arrested the Lance Corporal at the centre of the allegations after it was alerted by Town Clerk Royston King, who also dismissed the rank on the same day for misconduct.
Questions have been raised about why the matter was not immediately reported to the police or the Childcare and Protection Agency (CPA), as is required under the law.
When asked about this concern yesterday, Chapman told Stabroek News that it is not a matter that will be addressed by him. He said that it may be dealt with at “a higher level.” According to Chapman, all that he is investigating at this point is the allegation made by the alleged victim.
He acknowledged that the M&CC lacks the required skills to investigate such a serious matter. “It should have been reported. I don’t know that they [City Hall] have the capacity to investigate such a matter,” he said.
Meanwhile, Guyana Police Force Public Rela-tions Officer Shivpersaud Bacchus informed that the Lance Corporal was arrested shortly after he turned up at the Brickdam Police Station on Tuesday afternoon. He remains in custody as the investigation continues.
The Lance Corporal’s arrest came hours after he was dismissed by King, only a day after he had said that there was not enough evidence for the administration to take action. King had told a statutory council meeting on Monday that despite the “enormous publicity” given to the case, it was a matter of “mere allegation” up to that point.
But in a letter, dated October 17, 2017 and signed by King, the Lance Corporal was informed that he was dismissed with immediate effect for “gross misconduct between August 22 and August 23, 2017 at the Regent Street Outpost where you engaged in a sexual act with a juvenile.”
A Corporal, who had reported that he witnessed the alleged abuse, was also dismissed for “dereliction of duty” as he took no action.
According to a statement provided to the M&CC’s Legal Affairs Committee, the Corporal reported what he witnessed to the Assistant Super-intendent on the morning of August 23, after which the matter was reported to the Chief Constable, the Town Clerk and the Mayor.
Instead of contact being made with the CPA or the police, the alleged victim was taken to the office of the Town Clerk, where he was questioned in the presence of other city officers.
On questioning the Chief Constable, councillors on the Legal Affairs Committee learnt that the statement was made outside of the presence of a social worker or the child’s legal guardian.
The guardian, his mother, later refused to sign the statement and told the constables that she did not want the child in her home as he was causing problems between her and her husband.
The M&CC’s lax attitude towards the matter has caused outrage. Several child rights activists are calling for the Town Clerk and other city officers to be held accountable for their failure to handle the matter in accordance with the provisions contained in the Protection of Children Act.
The Act specifically notes at Section 7 (1) that “where a person has direct information that a child is or may be in need protective intervention, the person shall immediately report the matter to the CPA director, a probation officer appointed by the Public Service Commis-sion or a Police Officer.”
It adds that a person with this knowledge who fails to report is guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine of $50,000.
Child right activist Vidyaratha Kissoon has since issued a call for King’s dismissal or resignation over the matter.