THE management of the St Michael’s Home for Boys was informed over a month ago of the findings of an independent probe into its operations and did in fact respond to the Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development, according to a statement from the ministry yesterday.
Details of the response, or of the letter sent by the ministry to the school’s manager, Alison Salandy, were not given but the management wrote a letter to the ministry on June 30, according to yesterday’s statement.
Gender Affairs Minister, Clifton DeCoteau, was responding to statements Wednesday by Anglican Bishop, Reverend Claude Berkeley, that the State must shoulder some blame for allegations of child abuse in a report commissioned after the death in April of 13-year-old former resident, Brandon Hargreaves.
A committee formed via the Children’s Act has produced the 11-page document, which Attorney General Anand Ramlogan found “disturbing”, leading him to call Tuesday for a criminal investigation into the 50-acre estate facility, which was initially set up and run by the Anglican Church.
The staff of the institution are now public servants and Berkeley said Wednesday the Church no longer has the power to hire, fire or discipline working staff at St Michael’s.
Ramlogan has forwarded the report to Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard and acting Commissioner of Police, Stephen Williams, for “urgent” attention.
DeCoteau, in his statement yesterday, said Government’s memorandum of understanding (MOU) in seeking to improve facilities, like St Michael’s, had been sent to the school board in April and May and that no response has been forthcoming from that communication.
The school board responded to a May 7 letter that informed it of the independent report, DeCoteau said.
\ The report into St Michael’s School for Boys has found that boys are sexually abused, in one instance leading to a staff member becoming pregnant,
\ that violent initiation rites are used on newcomers and that school supplies are regularly stolen and funds laundered.
\ Cases of sexual abuse were varied, with allegations that cellular telephone pictures of one child’s genitals and footage of a boy being stripped were circulated by a male teacher,
\ that the employee who became pregnant had taken the victim to her home for the act and that boys are often sent to hotel rooms to “rendezvous”.
There are also claims of children being denied medication as punishment, of children being beaten with objects and of boys being ordered or allowed to beat others.
\The investigation into the home was prompted by the death of Brandon Hargreaves, 13.