Dear Mrs Macaulay,
I am a young professional, age 24. I had my son at 19. I think my son's father has a serious sexual addiction and is a sexual predator. This is affecting my child, who stays with his dad on weekends. My son has been exposed to pornography. His dad has hundreds of porn videos that are left around the house with easy access for my five-year-old child. I know all of this because my son is very expressive and he will tell me all the things he has been exposed to. The last straw for me, though, was when my son told me that he witnessed his father having sex with a 14-year-old neighbour. This is a 36-year-old man who constantly exposes my son to all kinds of degradation.
He stopped supporting the child financially from he was three years old, so the only thing he does is keep him on weekends.
What can I do?
You have asked what you can do about each of your son's father's wrongful acts and failure to provide support.
Well, my dear, you can and should have done a number of things before now.
Firstly, you should have applied in the Family Court of your parish for custody, care and control of your son.
Secondly, since he stopped providing for his child, you should have applied then for an order for him to provide maintenance in a fixed sum and for one-half of his educational, medical, optical and dental expenses.
Thirdly, you should also have reported the harm to which your son's father was exposing him to the Children's Registry as being harmful to his development and therefore abusively destructive, to say the least. It is your legal duty to report this.
Fourthly, you also should have reported him to the Children's Registry and maybe CISOCA for the sexual violation of a child under 14. You were and are legally obligated to report this once your child told you of the incident, as you suspect that a child has been sexually molested.
Reports to the Children's Registry are strictly confidential and the name or any information which would lead to the child or the alleged perpetrator being identified cannot be disclosed. It would be an offence under the Child Care and Protection Act by the officer responsible for any such disclosure. If on a trial for such an offence there is a conviction, it is punishable by a maximum fine of $5,000,000 or to a term of imprisonment, or to both a fine and imprisonment.
So you could safely have made your report. You still can. Since it is a young child who informed you of it, it may be better to report it to the Children's Registry which will discreetly investigate the matter (as opposed to CISOCA which would be a police criminal investigation at once). If it proves to be true, they can then involve CISOCA. By doing it this way, there may be a better chance that the young girl will be more forthcoming. It is not that I question the capability and sensitivity of the police officers in CISOCA, I do not; but some people do not like to talk to the police.
If the report turns out to be unfounded, then there will be no fault found in you having reported it, as long as you did so in good faith. You seem to believe your son with good reason, otherwise where would he have come up with something like that if it did not happen? Only reports which are made when the maker knows them to be false are actionable under the Act.
In any event, you must report the matter or you will be the one who may be charged for your failure to report, because you are obligated to do so under the Child Care and Protection Act.
You are duty-bound also to do all that you must to ensure that your child's rights are protected. That he obtains proper support from his father is one such right. That he is protected from harm is another such right, and that he enjoys access to his father -- if it is safe for him to do so -- is another right of his.
In your Family Court application for sole custody, care and control of your son, when the issue of the father's access arises, you should vary his every weekend residential access to supervised access and ask that the father submit to therapy for his addiction and counselling for him to acquire parental skills and an appreciation of his role and his obligations as a parent.
You have so far failed to protect the rights of your son and to ensure that he enjoys them throughout his minority. Do not continue to fail to take the necessary steps in court to protect your child and the rights he is entitled to and to provide for his wholesome development.
Margarette May Macaulay is an attorney-at-law, Supreme Court mediator, notary public and women's and children's rights advocate. Send questions via e-mail to allwoman@jamaicaobserver. com; or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5.
The contents of this article are for informational purposes only and must not be relied upon as an alternative to legal advice from your own attorney.