The 1997 Robert Sabga report into abuse at 10 children’s homes is now in the public domain and its contents are just as disturbing as the recent 2021 investigation.
Within the 70-page document, titled «Report of The Cabinet Appointed Task Force to Review the Operations of Children’s Homes and Institutions in Trinidad and Tobago,» is a story that can rival even the most chilling reports of abuse in the more recent Judith Jones-led investigation.
Page 36 of the Sabga report reveals the alleged crimes of a staff member of the St Dominic’s Home for Children, who molested up to 40 boys before the facility’s management stepped in.
The report states that the staff member committed several acts of sexual abuse.
«These included forced buggery, encouraging boys to have sex with each other while he watched, stripping and beating the older boys while the younger ones looked on, encouraging the children to ‘play’ with him, etc.»
This was first highlighted in the now-defunct T&T Mirror newspaper in December 1997.
But two-and-a-half decades later, the details are still disturbing.
The report says, «One young boy finally disclosed all and the alleged perpetrator was confronted. He admitted his actions and explained that he too had been abused by St Dominic’s.»
However, what happened next astonished the investigative team.
«Sr Marina asked him to volunteer his resignation that day, and all of his leave etc. was paid to him in full.
«The matter was then promptly swept under the carpet and no counselling or follow up with the children involved was done, ostensibly to protect the reputation of the home.»
The report went on to say that, «most astonishing of all is this Mr. (name withheld) allegedly got a letter of recommendation from St Dominic’s and he is now reportedly employed at St. Ann’s Hospital.»
Not holding back, the investigative team said, «Given the enormity of his crime, Mr. (name withheld) would, in any other society, be branded a monster of the worst kind, and he would be put away for life.»
The investigators lamented that «very little else appears to have been done about his actions, either in terms of him getting professional help, or – more importantly, as noted above – any of the staggering number of children he molested getting help either (one child even wrote a letter to a staff member pleading for help).»
Twenty-four years later and the Judith Jones report has found that at the same facility, «Staff at St Dominic’s sometimes fail to identify and protect residents from grooming and thus sexual abuse.»
The 2021 report adds, «The home has met all conditions for a residence license except the requirement that it provide police certificates of character for all its staff.»
Guardian Media on Thursday attempted to reach out to the management of the home to find out what measures were put in place to improve the quality of care of children between 1997 and now. However, we were told manager Sister Arlene Greenidge was not in office and our contact information was taken.
Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Port-of-Spain, Father Martin Sirju, said while the board of the home is best placed to answer the questions, he is looking forward to improving the system following the completion of an internal investigation the church announced on Wednesday.
Sirju said the scope of the investigation, including deadlines, is still being sorted out.
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LINK ORIGINAL: The Trinidad Guardian