Rape: 'Church' leader charged

Rape: 'Church' leader charged

Saturday, December 14, 2019

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THE Hanover police yesterday reported that they have charged a church leader with seven counts of rape and he is to appear in the Hanover Parish Court next Tuesday.

A law enforcement source told the Jamaica Observer that the man is connected to the controversial Qahal Yahweh religious sect in Paradise Gardens, St James which was last month raided by police and soldiers who took three children from the compound.

According to the police, the man was arrested on Monday, December 10 by a patrol that saw him beating a child at Barnes Lane, Mount Pelier community in Sandy Bay, Hanover.

“After conducting follow-up enquiries, the sexual misconduct allegations came to the fore, and detectives from the Hanover Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA) were called in to bolster the investigative team,” a news release from the police force's Corporate Communications Unit (CCU) said.

The police said their investigations turned up several allegations of sexual misconduct concerning children in the community, and after collecting several statements, the man was charged.

“Investigators are now appealing to people who may have been victims of the man, or who may have any information that can assist them, to contact the Hanover CISOCA at 876-953-5312, or 956-2304, Police 119 emergency number, or the nearest police station,” the CCU said.

The Qahal Yahweh group gained national attention last month when officials of CISOCA and the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) went to the premises following reports of child abuse, abduction of children, among other alleged atrocities carried out by members of the church against children.

“The occupants of the premises have children who don't attend public school, they are schooled on the premises and are sometimes allegedly beaten after being accused of demon possession,” a senior police officer told the Observer at the time.

“They are also accused of forcibly marrying off the children as soon as they reach the age of 16,” the police officer added.

Upon arrival at the premises the CISOCA and CPFSA team were denied entry by members of the church and the security forces had to be called in.

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