MEMBERS of the clergy and policemen are the most consistent culprits having sex with girls under the age of 16.
This was disclosed yesterday by Superintendent of Police Enid Ross-Stewart, head of the Centre for Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA), as she addressed Parliament’s joint select committee reviewing sex offences legislation at Gordon House.
According to Superintendent Ross-Stewart, the police agency handled 1,094 reports of men having sex with children under 16 years old, which is legally the age of consent, of which 664 were recorded in Kingston.
She said that CISOCA’s arrest of a number of ministers of religion recently on similar charges was nothing new.
“Having arrested these ministers, really it is not the first time. We are constantly arresting high-profile members of the society, particularly churchmen and policemen. Yes, churchmen and policemen are really our two highest high-profile arrests,” she told the committee.
Ross-Stewart also pointed out that the clear-up rate for the offence was among the lowest among crimes, mainly due to the lack of cooperation from the victims.
“Simply because most of our young girls, they give you a name and address of the person who had sex with them, and when you check these names and addresses they are really fictitious,” she said.
“I suspect we don’t have more reports because a number of parents are also very young, and they are complicit with what happens with their daughters, and economics play a very big role, too,” she added.
Ross-Stewart said that last year CISOCA had its highest number of arrests for this crime, at 49 per cent.
“The young girls, really, they are into sex for whatever reason, and so they mislead the police. So we do not get enough (information) to go after (the perpetrators) as we would like,” she noted.
“The rape victims, they tell you everything about it, because they feel that they were abused, but the under-16 sex, they really do not,” she said.
Chairman of the committee and Minister of Justice Delroy Chuck said that it seemed that the country is plagued with the abuse of children, especially girls below the age of 16.
“It is a major plague on the land at the moment, where our young girls are being abused in their homes, in the schools, in the churches. It seems everywhere, and the society as a body, all of us, needs to address the [issue],” he stated.
Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange asked Ross-Stewart how closely CISOCA works with the Bureau of Gender Affairs and how much information they get from the Sexual Offenders’ Registry. Ross-Stewart said the police really had no information from the registry because it is controlled by the Department of Correctional Services (DCS).
She said that the agency would work with the DCS, if they allowed CISOCA access to the register.
However, she added that there were not a lot of repeat offenders among those involved in rapes and sexual abuse, which lessened the need to consult the registry.
Opposition member of the committee, Lynvale Bloomfield (Portland Eastern), agreed with Grange, stating that as a medical doctor he had not seen the level of inter-agency networking that would be critical for the level of awareness and education necessary to fight the sex crimes.
He stated that, in addition to the more than 1,000 cases reported to CISOCA last year, there was “a vast majority out there in the rural areas” unreported, and called for better facilities.
Superintendent Ross-Stewart said that, although every parish had a CISOCA presence, there was limited collaboration with the medical fraternity, as doctors were not supporting the agency to the extent that was needed.
“When the victims go to the hospitals, the doctors have them waiting for hours and hours and hours. They are traumatised, they are identified as rape victims, and it doesn’t work,” the superintendent said.
The joint select committee is reviewing the Sexual Offences Act, the Child Care and Protection Act, the Domestic Violence Act, and the Offences against the Person Act, as well as the offences and punishment under these Acts.
Special emphasis is also being placed on the protection of the vulnerable (women, children, the elderly, and people living with disabilities) from violence and abuse.