JDF breaks silence on sexual harassment matter

JDF breaks silence on sexual harassment matter

But offers little details

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

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THE Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) yesterday broke its silence on the allegations of sexual harassment of a woman soldier by her male superior which came to public attention in this week's Sunday Observer.

Lieutenant Nathan Curtis, acting civil military cooperation officer, who last week declined to comment when the newspaper contacted him, confirmed the allegations in an interview with veteran journalist Cliff Hughes on his evening news and current affairs radio programme Nationwide@Five.

At the same time, the JDF issued a terse statement saying that matters of such a personal and sensitive nature are treated with the highest level of sensitivity and are handled in accordance with the organisation's Sexual Harassment and Personal Relationship and Fraternisation policies, as well as the Defence Act.

The JDF subsequently asked that the investigation be allowed the necessary time for completion as the organisation remains confident its sexual harassment policy, which was established in December 2018, will continue to guide it as it works towards a healthy and safe environment for all service members.

The Sunday Observer had reported that a woman soldier who entered into a sexual relationship with her superior, a lieutenant, was charged under sections 75 and 46 of The Defence Act, and sentenced to 14 days in military prison.

Yesterday, during his interview on Nationwide, Lieutenant Curtis pointed out that the matter in question happened in July 2020. He, however, remained tight-lipped regarding specific charges laid against the officer, only divulging that the officer had been charged but the process for officers is more complicated, therefore his charges were not final.

He also confirmed that the officer is still on active duty in the JDF, but is not in contact with the woman soldier.

Based on documents obtained by the Sunday Observer, the female soldier 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.

Her relative, who brought the matter to the attention of the Observer, 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.

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