Gardner’s lawyer says accusations ‘completely untrue’

ALPHEA SAUNDERS Senior staff reporter saundersa@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

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Attorney Lambert Johnson yesterday dismissed accusations of sexual misconduct made by a church member against his client, Dr Paul Gardner, who last week stepped down as head of the Moravian Church in Jamaica in order to facilitate a probe.


"They are completely untrue, have no basis in reality or in fact, and seem to be the wild imaginings of someone who is just determined to cause him harm," Johnson told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.


He also denied that the same congregant had written a letter of complaint against Gardner to the church board. "No such letter was written to the church," he emphasised.


Gardner has also been accused by a former minister of the church, Dr Canute Thompson, of not acting on concerns raised by him about sexual misconduct in the church, and specifically in relation to Rev Rupert Clarke, who is now at the centre of a scandal that has hit the church. Clarke was arrested on rape and carnal abuse charges in December last year.


In the wake of the backlash against the church over the incident, Gardner and vice-president Jermaine Gibson resigned from their executive duties.


Yesterday, in a brief statement, Gardner said he intends to "concentrate on protecting and clearing my good name". He said he had stepped away from the post in order to "give the church room to fully investigate these vile and unfounded allegations circulating in the media, and to prevent any of these institutions from having to deal with the distraction that this issue presents."


Johnson told the Observer that Gardner was fully expected to resume his functions as soon as the church had concluded its investigations.


On the weekend, acting president of the church Rev Phyllis Smit-Seymour said the recent events and allegations have left the church "battered and wounded" and that the organisation has engaged outside help and counsel.


 


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