Tobago political activist under probe for sex texts sent to 15-year-old boy

The Texts

(Trinidad Guardian) Of­fi­cers of the TTPS Child Pro­tec­tion Unit in To­ba­go are in­ves­ti­gat­ing a se­ries of in­ap­pro­pri­ate, vile, text mes­sages sent to a 15-year-old school­boy from a so­cial me­dia ac­count of a To­ba­go House of As­sem­bly (THA) em­ploy­ee.

The 34-year-old al­leged of­fend­er is fre­quent­ly seen on po­lit­i­cal and THA plat­forms, so­licit­ed the young­ster for sex, ac­cord­ing to one of the mes­sages.

An of­fi­cer of the Child Pro­tec­tion Unit told Guardian Me­dia that even though a for­mal re­port had not been made “we will cer­tain­ly in­ves­ti­gate this mat­ter.”

Guardian Me­dia un­der­stands that the con­ver­sa­tion took place ap­prox­i­mate­ly three weeks ago, but on­ly start­ed cir­cu­lat­ing on so­cial me­dia yes­ter­day.

Un­der the Chil­dren Act 2012, an in­di­vid­ual can be charged for en­gag­ing in con­ver­sa­tion of a sex­u­al na­ture with a mi­nor. The Act ex­press­ly iden­ti­fies the sit­u­a­tion as sex­u­al groom­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to the Chil­dren’s Au­thor­i­ty of Trinidad and To­ba­go: “Sex­u­al groom­ing oc­curs when an adult be­friends a child by build­ing a close re­la­tion­ship in or­der to gain the child’s trust, with the in­ten­tion of lat­er en­gag­ing the child in sex­u­al ac­tiv­i­ty.”

Screen­shots of the con­ver­sa­tion be­tween the al­leged of­fend­er and the school­boy were sent to Guardian Me­dia.

The school­boy, ac­cord­ing to a close friend, shrugged off the in­ap­pro­pri­ate text mes­sages as a joke but ad­mit­ted it made him feel un­com­fort­able, which prompt­ed him to send screen­shots of the con­ver­sa­tion to his friends.

How­ev­er, he has been in good spir­its and was not trou­bled by the pub­lic rev­e­la­tion.

The boy’s moth­er was re­port­ed­ly in­fu­ri­at­ed af­ter her son showed her the mes­sages and went to the po­lice with the in­for­ma­tion.

One To­ba­go psy­chol­o­gist, speak­ing on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty, said pae­dophiles usu­al­ly seek out po­si­tions of trust “so that they can lure vic­tims.”

“As young­sters are taught to trust adults, es­pe­cial­ly in high po­si­tions, the young­sters be­come easy prey and the per­pe­tra­tors know that,” the psy­chol­o­gist said.

An­oth­er psy­chol­o­gist said, “In a small is­land so­ci­ety se­crets of a sex­u­al na­ture are held close to peo­ple’s chest.”

“We have the his­to­ry of many cas­es of in­cest go­ing un­re­port­ed be­cause peo­ple do not want to hurt en­tire fam­i­lies and there­in lies the prob­lem.”

She said in these cir­cum­stances the vic­tim as well as the per­pe­tra­tor needs help.

“Of­ten times the per­pe­tra­tor was once a vic­tim,” she said.

Con­tact­ed for com­ment Chief Sec­re­tary Kelvin Charles said he will com­ment af­ter get­ting the facts.

The Chil­dren’s Au­thor­i­ty stat­ed pre­vi­ous­ly that sex­u­al groom­ing oc­curs when an adult be­friends a child by build­ing a close re­la­tion­ship in or­der to gain the child’s trust, with the in­ten­tion of lat­er en­gag­ing the child in sex­u­al ac­tiv­i­ty.

Ac­cord­ing to the Chil­dren Act, 2012, the per­son who com­mits such an of­fence is li­able “to a fine of fifty thou­sand dol­lars and to im­pris­on­ment for ten years or on con­vic­tion on in­dict­ment, to a fine of one hun­dred thou­sand dol­lars and to im­pris­on­ment for twen­ty years.

Any­one with in­for­ma­tion can re­port the mat­ter to the Chil­dren Au­thor­i­ty’s hot­lines at 996 or 800-2014 or the near­est po­lice sta­tion.

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