Sex mix-up at JDF

Sex mix-up at JDF

Army mum as allegations swirl about harassment of women soldiers by officer

BY KIMBERLEY HIBBERT
Senior staff reporter
hibbertk@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, January 17, 2021

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A damning allegation has surfaced against a Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) officer who is being accused of sexual harassment and preying on young women soldiers under his command.

The allegation was raised by a family member of a woman private, who claims that his relative, who has been in the army for less than a year, was targeted by her superior who pursued a sexual relationship with her.

The relative said that when his cousin realised she was being taken advantage of, she tried to end things, but she was victimised by being given what was described as “bad duty”.

He said she asked for a transfer, which she eventually received; however, when she thought all was settled she was charged and placed in military prison for 14 days.

Documents received by the Jamaica Observer indicate that the woman soldier was charged with three offences.

The first document states the private was charged for conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline contrary to Section 75 of the Defence Act. The details outline that the woman soldier at Burke Barracks on Saturday May 2, 2020 conducted herself in a manner most unbecoming of a trained soldier by engaging in sexual intercourse in the parking lot of the said barracks.

In another charge report, the private's offence was disobedience to standing orders contrary to Section 46 (1) of the Defence Act. The details state that the woman soldier at Burke Barracks, on diverse dates in 2020, contravened the JDF Policy on Personal Relationship and Fraternisation dated December 28, 2018, which was known to her or which she might reasonably be expected to know, by entering into a personal relationship with a lieutenant. The relative has accused the lieutenant of predatory behaviour.

The third charge report seen by the Sunday Observer states the offence as conduct to prejudice of good order and military discipline contrary to Section 75 of the Defence Act. The details are that the soldier at Burke Barracks on Friday, June 19, 2020 sought to usurp the chain of command and unduly influence the transfer process of the organisation by threatening a superior officer to divulge information regarding their personal relationship.

But the relative is questioning why no charges have been laid against the lieutenant, which he says is an indictment on the operations of the JDF.

“He ended up charging her because he said she threatened him, to expose the relationship unless she gets a transfer. If they are going to charge her he needs to be charged too, as his modus operandi is to prey on these younger girls. My cousin told me that after things went sour with her the same happened to another female soldier and they both were transferred.

“I spent 24 years in the military so I know how these things run. They prey on young girls — girls who are unsuspecting. And it's not just in the army, but also in the civilian world. You are preyed on, taken advantage of, and victimised when you don't give in. That's why she asked for the transfer — transfer me because you're not going to keep doing this to me. She's a private, you're the senior officer over her, you should know better. She had sex in his car on the base. She doesn't have a car, so why is she the only one being punished?” the relative asked.

He added: “What's worse is, no one wants to believe her because they're all friends in the boys' club. Everyone she goes to talk to, no one wants to believe. I said to her, “Be honest with me,” and she told me everything. A relationship was formed, she realised this is what he does, [she] wants out, and it becomes problematic. I'm sure there are other females who've been dying to speak up but are afraid to talk because of the consequences.”

When contacted for a response, JDF Acting Civil Military Cooperation and Media Affairs Officer Lieutenant Nathan Curtis said, “At this time the JDF has no comment.”

But reliable sources have informed the Sunday Observer that the officer in question has not been charged; however, they were unable to say if a lesser punishment such as a transfer or strict 'talking to', was given.

“There are strict policies around sexual harassment here. If this man was preying on females or was manipulating this young private, he needs to be dealt with. I don't know how you got the documents with the charges, but that situation with the private soldier in lock-up is worrying. It worries me, because I don't see or hear anything about what actions were taken against the officer,” one of the sources said.

Moreover, the allegations follow other claims that the JDF protected a senior officer who tried to rape a soldier in The Bahamas when the JDF Disaster Assistance Relief Team had been deployed to that country to help with relief efforts following Hurricane Dorian.

Information reaching this newsroom through an anonymous e-mail — one directed to a recipient through a third-party server that does not identify the originator of the message — states that after the soldier threatened to go to the police the officer was seconded to another government job.

These other allegations also stated that women soldiers who entered the JDF under the Jamaica National Service Corps (JNSC) are often sexually harassed or forced to sleep with soldiers and officers if they want to stay in the JDF and perform their duties peacefully. The e-mail also stated that many of the JNSC female soldiers have been engaging in prostitution with 'big men' — presumably officers or senior soldiers.

Lieutenant Curtis was again asked to respond to the claims of the e-mail which was shared with him. He stated, “As it stands, our position is still no comment.”


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