Perrin regrets allegations of physical abuse at boys' homeSunday, September 26, 2021
BY HORACE HINES
DARLISTON, Westmoreland — Chairman of the Cilfton Boys' Home, Rev Hartley Perrin, has described as regrettable the allegations of physical abuse which led to the arrest and charge of three workers — a senior citizen and two of her close family members — by the Westmoreland police on Thursday.
According to the constabulary's Corporate Communications Unit, manager of the facility, 80-year-old Irene McDonald was charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm and unlawful wounding. Meanwhile her son, 58-year-old William McDonald, assistant manager; and her grandaughter, 35-year-old Rasheda McDonald, a housekeeper at the facility, have both been charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
The 80-year-old accused has reportedly worked at the facility for four decades.
The allegations, said Rev Perrin, have thrown the facility into a negative light.
“The parties are no longer associated with the home and the home is now feeling the kickback from this. But, it is what it is. We have persons who are calling from abroad wanting to know the situation and almost losing confidence — maybe that's a little too strong to say but they need to be assured that everything is still all right here. So it puts the home in a bad light, not in a good light. We would much prefer that the home continues to be in a good light,” Rev Perrin told the Jamaica Observer last evening.
“It has been most unfortunate from day one and I just remain saying the whole thing is unfortunate. That's all I will say now. I said a lot in the initial stages. I continue to say it is just unfortunate.”
In the meantime, a news release from the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) noted that “the agency takes a zero-tolerance approach to all forms of violence against children and is cooperating with the police as they carry out their investigations”.
Meanwhile, minister of state in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information Robert Nesta Morgan said people working within the childcare ecosystem must be reminded to act in the best interest of the children in their care at all times.
“Persons within the child protection system are prescribed persons and have a greater duty of care under the provisions of the Child Care and Protection Act (CCPA, 2004),” he said.
It was reported that over the period under investigation, eight boys from as young as 10 years old to 17 years old were physically abused by the three accused. One of the accused was said to have used a metal chair to beat a 17-year-old boy. It is also alleged that at another time, he used a piece of board to beat a 15-year-old boy and dragged another down the stairs.
It is further alleged that another accused beat four other children, resulting in bruises and a wound to one of them. There were also allegations that on another occasion, one of the accused phyically assaulted two other boys.
A report was subsequently made to the CPFSA and the police. An investigation was launched and the three accused arrested and subsequently charged.
Earlier this year, upon receiving reports, the CPFSA launched an investigation into allegations of physical abuse of wards of the State by staff at the residential childcare facility. This resulted in the suspension of some staff members. The police also conducted their own investigations, which led to Thursday's arrests.
Clifton Boys' Home was established in 1961 and is a private facility licensed for a capacity of 35 boys, aged seven to 18 years.
The building was destroyed by fire in January 2017, displacing 28 boys. The Anglican Church in Jamaica, which operates the home, had stated that it would take $60 million to rebuild the facility.