Wellington arrested, charged for beating student athlete at Vere

By Howard Walker
Senior staff reporter

Thursday, November 15, 2018

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Chairman of the Vere Technical High School Board Henry Thompson has been left disappointed with the chain of events at the school, especially after being kept in the dark about the arrest of physical education teacher Sashauna Wellington on Tuesday.

Head of the Clarendon Police Division Senior Superintendent Vendolyn Cameron-Powell confirmed to the Jamaica Observer that Wellington, who allegedly beat Class Three 800m runner Moesha James with a “PVC” pipe, was indeed arrested and charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm. The teacher was released on bail and will have to appear before the court on Friday, November 23.

But Thompson, who first learnt about the assault on the 13-year-old student athlete when the Observer broke the story on Monday, said the board will be implementing changes on how things are reported to it.

“I didn't get that from the school, so I am going down there to know how can that happen and I didn't get it from them,” said Thompson.

“Yesterday (Tuesday) the lady was arrested. She wasn't in the school and they (police) called and she went to the police station and she was arrested. Now you tell me now, the police station was less than two kilometres from the school; how comes the board don't know that the person was arrested, and I spoke to the principal up to last night (Tuesday) and there was no mention about anything?” Thompson questioned.

“As [a] board, what we will be trying to do is lay down some rules as far as how the reporting is done. With incidents like this, we shouldn't be caught pants down.”

When asked if authorities at the school were possibly trying to cover up and avoid the embarrassment caused by the incident, Thompson replied, “Well, it wasn't going to go anywhere because, since Monday when the article came out, I found out this thing was out on the street basically. They thought they could just sweep it under the carpet.”

On November 1, Wellington was alleged to have beaten James with a “PVC” pipe causing bruises to her leg and arm. But when contacted by this newspaper, Wellington said: “Sir, it is what it is. Whatever you say or they say.”

Asked again if that was her official response to the allegations, Wellington claimed ignorance.

“I have no idea what you talking about. I can't recall. I don't know what you talking about. Moesha James is a student where? I don't know what you talking about. It is what it is. Have a good evening,” she said.

When Vere Technical High School Principal Antoinette Banton-Ellis was contacted about the issue, she too had no idea what was happening at her school.

“I don't know; I will have to go and check it out and find out. I am not sure about any case in that matter, Sir, so I will have to do an investigation,” said Banton-Ellis.

The child has since been transferred to Hydel High School.

Thompson said things are not looking good for the physical education teacher.

“We have to go by the Education Act because after we meet today (yesterday) we have to ask the Personnel Committee to look into it, then the Personnel Committee has to come back to the board and make a recommendation,” he explained.

Meanwhile, the Child Protection and Family Services Agency told this newspaper that they have stepped in and will be launching their own investigation into the matter.

“Under the Child Care and Protection Act, this is considered as child abuse, in particular physical abuse. The agency condemns any form of abuse to a child. Our stance is whilst corporal punishment is not totally banned in Jamaica, the beating of any child should not be permitted. We firmly believe that there are many other ways to positively discipline a child,” said a statement sent to the Observer.

“We have since made contact with her mother and are conducting an investigation into this matter with the view to assess and ensure that the child is okay and to ascertain whether she is adversely affected so that psychological intervention can be provided.

“Any injury to a child through corporal punishment is cruelty to a child and assault under the Offences Against the Persons Act,” it concluded.

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