Court to hear case of girl in Moravian pastor’s plight tomorrow

Court to hear case of girl in Moravian pastor’s plight tomorrow

BY ALPHEA SAUNDERS Senior staff reporter

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

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The care and protection case for the 15-year-old St Elizabeth girl involved in the rape and carnal abuse case against Moravian pastor Rupert Clarke is to go before the St Elizabeth Parish Court tomorrow, the Jamaica Observer has learnt.

The child and another sibling from the same home are now in State care. The story has rocked the nation over the past week, again bringing into focus the harsh economic realities faced by many impoverished families, and the inherent vulnerabilities, especially among young women and girls in depressed socio-economic conditions.

The Observer has learnt that the girl is one of 10 children and lived in extremely difficult circumstances in the rural community with her mother, who had also lived in St James, but moved to St Elizabeth after the death of the children’s father.

According to information obtained by the Observer the mother now lives in an abandoned building in an area off the beaten path without plumbing and electricity with several of her daughters, as well as a grandchild.

The mother takes domestic jobs whenever she can, and also receives assistance from the Government’s social welfare programme, PATH, as well as from residents of the community. Some community members claim, however, that the girls have, for the most part, raised themselves due to lack of adult supervision. The Observer has now learnt that State agencies could step in to assist the family with proper housing.

Police in St Elizabeth have confirmed reports of intimidation against the family, but told the Observer they are still investigating, although no statements have been given.

Police charged the 64-year-old clergyman after they said a patrol then found him with the girl in a "compromising position" in his parked motor vehicle near Nain, St Elizabeth, on the night of December 28.

Clarke, who was granted $800,000 bail on January 4, is to return to court on February 13.

Since news broke about the incident, there have been raging debates on social media, which have been aggravated by the action of Hampton School Principal Heather Murray, who attempted to blocked television cameras at Clarke’s bail hearing.

In the face of condemnation for her attendance in court, Murray issued a statement explaining that she had gone to give support to her friend, who is the pastor’s wife, but the calls for her resignation as chief administrator at the all girls school have not ceased.

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