PM Ingraham shares his disgust of sexual crimes at the EMR High School

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ingraham-hubert<<< Prime Minister Rt. Hon Hubert Ingraham.

Click to listen to Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham contibution on the appointment of a Select Committee to investigate incidents at the Eight Mile Rock High School

Prime Minister The Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham came out swinging noting his disgust of sexual crimes, which have occurred across the country against children. He also informed the Parliament that for the first time a senior public servant will be retired for “his involvement in sexual harassment” committed against a civil servant.

Ingraham made the announcement as he rapped up debate on the appointment of a select committee to investigate incidents of sexual crimes at the Eight Mile Rock High School. Ingraham asked how could principals at the EMRH School gave a teacher [Andre Birbal] good reviews every year. “How could that happen?” he questioned.

Ingraham also pointed out that since 2001 some 15 teachers have been withdrawn from classrooms after being accused of sexual crimes against students. He pointed that some 4 of these cases are still unresolved, and that all of these persons are still being paid by the government.

Ingraham also noted that to many people are unwilling to speak about these crimes. “That too is a crime!” Ingraham said. He concluded that officials who knew what happened at EMRH School will be dealt not long from now, and assured that the select committee appointed will be supported by the government.

CLICK to read the Prime Minister’s contribution


Contribution to Debate on a Resolution for the Appointment of a Select Committee to Examine Allegations of Sexual Abuse at the Eight Mile Rock High School and Procedures of the Ministry of Education by Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham:

THE PRIME MINISTER: Mr. Speaker,

I am pleased to add my support for the motion to appoint a Select Committee to review all matters connected with the allegations of sexual molestation by a former teacher at the Eight Mile Rock High School.

I would have also been pleased to support the motion if it had been proposed to review allegations of sexual molestation in schools in The Bahamas period; or if the terms of reference were limited to public schools.

We have a bad record about Select Committees in the House. They almost uniformly never report and they really come about because Members choose to have a debate or discussion. There may be one or two meetings of a Committee and then nobody hears anything about it afterward.

I hope that is not the fate of this Committee; I hope that it will work and will make a report and some recommendations.

But notwithstanding that – whether it makes a report, whether it works or not is not relevant to the point I now make: today has caused light to be shone on an issue that afflicts and affects our society, and as a consequence of the debate today, many changes will take place in the public school system of The Bahamas.

Sexual molestation is nothing short of reprehensible and criminal. The case with which this Resolution is concerned is very serious and I regret that Members Opposite have sought by their rhetoric here and in the media, to reduce this serious matter to an opportunity for scoring political points. I assure all, there are no political points to be made here or elsewhere in exposing and dealing with sexual perverts who prey upon helpless children.

The allegation of molestation in this case occurred at a time when Members Opposite formed the Government. The earliest complaints on the matter were brought to the attention of a very senior person in the Ministry of Education in 2006, seemingly without result.

The allegations received the attention of the Ministry of Education following my Government’s election to office in May 2007. Still, the alleged culprit departed the country before the conclusion of the investigation of the allegation by the police and before any charge was laid.

Regrettably, this will not have been the first case of inappropriate contact between a teacher and a student in a government-operated school. There are a number of outstanding allegations against some 15 public school teachers extending as far back as 2001, and as many as 4 such allegations are presently before the Courts; a few of which that have been before the Courts for quite sometime without resolution.

Notwithstanding our heightened attention to the danger now, it is possible that in the future some other student may be confronted by a devious teacher or other adult engaged at a school in which they are enrolled.

We cannot try the Eight Mile Rock case in this place.

What we can do is examine the procedures in place designed to deal with these matters; procedures meant to prevent the action, and procedures meant to assist to remedy the situation when prevention fails. And, we can take careful, well thought out steps to improve upon them.

We all recognize and acknowledge that notwithstanding procedures and safeguards, failures have occurred in the past and we have no assurance that they will not occur again at some time in the future.

The truth of the matter is that too many people find allegations such as the one made against the teacher at Eight Mile Rock High School uncomfortable, impolite or inappropriate for public commentary – shove it under the carpet; don’t talk about it, maybe it will just go away.

Under the misguided pretext of protecting their children or not exposing them to ridicule or mockery, some parents and guardians fail to report suspected sexual abuse of their children to the authorities, or they report the suspected abuse but refuse to permit their children to testify against an abuser or instruct that their child’s identity must not be revealed.

And, some people too readily assume that allegations of sexual abuse are fabrications – especially when made against someone held in high esteem in the community, such as a teacher, preacher or MP.

We know where that attitude got the Roman Catholic Church in the United States when applied to allegations of molestation by priests. Leopards don’t change their spots. Social problems and social crimes won’t go away because we find them uncomfortable to talk about or if we shift the problem from one location to another as has happened too often in The Bahamas.

I listened to the Member from Englerston this morning when she claimed that action was being taken now only because of intense public pressure. That is not so. Let me say that I do not believe that there is enough public outrage about sexual abuse and sexual crime in our country – not just regarding allegations of abuse in our schools but in our homes and in our communities. And it is that that we must commit ourselves to change!

How is it that a 62 year old man can go to court in The Bahamas on April 15, admit to having engaged in sexual intercourse with a five year old and be convicted and sentenced to 3 years in prison? Where is the outrage? Where is the outrage that our country has one of the highest rates of rape in our Hemisphere?

So, we have much work to do.

There is far too much shifting of problems in the public sector of The Bahamas.

Shifting and transfers is how we have traditionally dealt with problem employees in the public sector whether it is a drunkard in the school system, or indeed elsewhere in the Public Service, or an employee suffering from a mental disorder or perversion; – transfer them to a new school, department or unit in the hope that a new environment will make them shape-up. The 15 teachers I spoke of just now are virtually all still employed by the Government.

Finally, action is being taken. For example, a senior public officer was recently called upon to retire from the Service for acts of sexual harassment of an employee.

Finally, the shifting and or redeployment of teachers accused of sexual crimes against children in our schools is also going to end.

And, where evidence exists, I expect criminal charges to be laid against teachers who molest children. Where there is insufficient evidence to support criminal charges disciplinary action is and will be taken against such persons. They have no place in our schools.

Mr. Speaker:

We have to ask ourselves some hard questions.

In the Eight Mile Rock case – was there ever a suspicion that this teacher may have had a problem with boundaries between himself and his students early in his career in The Bahamas?

How is it that a teacher, thought now to be a molester, operated in our school system since 1988? Quite the opposite, his file, I am told, records that he was well regarded notwithstanding the allegation made against him in 2006.

Are there other victims of this teacher or of others?

From what I have been told, from what I have read, there most probably are, on both counts.

Some people find the attachment of homosexuality to the allegation titillating and concentrate their attention only on that aspect of what is being reported. But surely, we know that most sexual molestations involve heterosexuals. We cannot be willing to excuse this inappropriate behaviour when it involves a male teacher and a female student or a female teacher and a male student.

Some people are concentrating their anger on the fact that the allegation is made against a foreign teacher as if his ‘foreignness’ is the culprit and the reason for his ‘escape’. But we know that foreignness had nothing to do with the allegation. We know that some Bahamians accused of crime, escape abroad to avoid detection and or the consequences of their action.

I have been told and seen reports to the effect that the molestation in question took place over a number of years – from the 7th grade.

Did no one notice a change in the behaviour of the child? Was anyone interested – at school, in church, in the community, at home?

Molested children almost always act out, become withdrawn, or signal in some way that something in their lives has changed and they don’t know how to deal with it. Was anyone listening? What can we do to ensure that at least, in our schools, someone is watching and someone is listening?

Information now suggests that in this case a change in behaviour was noticed; however, little and certainly not enough was done about it.

It is important that we look at this very serious matter for what it is – devoid of all the distracting adjectives – foreign, homosexual; and let’s stop pontificating about what happened on whose watch.

This is an allegation of abuse; abuse by an individual placed in a position of authority over minor children.

We are all aware that sexual molestation is a crime. Sexual contact between an adult and a minor is a criminal act. Using ones position of authority to demand or win sexual favours from a subordinate, a dependant or from anyone left in your care or custody is a crime. When the sexual favour is extracted from a minor child (student) left in the care of the offending adult (teacher) the act is even more odious.

We also know that we have a legal obligation under the law – the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Act – to report suspicions of abuse of children.

A lot of abuse was heaped upon the Minister of Education this morning and before. But what about those who knew? No, we are not interested in talking about them; we are interested in trying to find a politician to blame.

The Ministry of Education has had in place a number of administrative procedures to provide guidance in relation to dealing with allegations of inappropriate teacher/student relations. They have proven, in this case and in other cases, to be insufficient and inadequate in this case and in a number of other cases.

With immediate effect specific reforms meant to better govern official responses to allegations of improper teacher/student relationships have been put in place in our school system. The Minister of Education has elaborated on these in his contribution.

The reforms are meant to provide comfort to students that any allegation made by them will be taken seriously, that they will be investigated and culprits will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Studies internationally indicate that some victims of sexual molestation, particularly children and adolescents, never overcome the insecurity and fear that result from abuse. So marred are some of these individuals that they are unable to fulfil their life goals or to lead productive, happy lives.

Mr. Speaker,

I believe that it was not appropriate for many officials in Grand Bahama involved in Education to have not acted differently; regard being had to the information which they seemed to have had access to quite some time ago.

This extends to a good number of people who were in positions of authority in Grand Bahama who could have, should have, ought to have acted differently.

No one should be surprised therefore, when appropriate action is taken in respect of such persons not long from now.

Mr. Speaker,

From our point of view, we are happy to cooperate fully with any investigation in connection with this matter or any matter in any public school.

The reality is that the Government is only one part of the issue; there are many other parts. One of those parts is parents. There are far, far too many cases in this country where persons know that children are being sexually molested or abused, and people in parental situations are unwilling to talk, unwilling to speak.

It is my hope that the Police and others in the society will begin to activate the provisions in the law that makes it a crime to not report what they know.

We have many laws on the books, but no one has ever dared to go to a parent and say, “you knew this boy was being molested, you told us he was being molested and you did nothing about it; you refused to go to the police; when the police came to you and you refused to provide information – you have committed a crime therefore and you are going to be charged in court and dealt with in accordance with the law.”

Also Mr. Speaker, the current position with respect to these Summary offences; these offences that are tried by the Magistrates Court where it must be tried within a six month period from the commission of the offence, is another matter we must look at in terms of amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code when it comes down to molestation of children.

We ought not need an Attorney General’s fiat; the Police ought to be able to do so.

Better information ought to be provided to all persons in the public school system, especially those in Administration, as to what their duty and obligations are: to report these matters to the police, Social Services and the Ministry; and not to ever have what happened here at the Eight Mile Rock High School again where things were shuffled around, known by quite a few people; no action taken.

The Minister of Education gets appointed in May of 2007, the young man involved leaves school in June 2007, talks about being molested after he leaves school and we blame the Minister of Education in Nassau for it, when the report had been made to Education in 2006 to a very senior official in the Education establishment.

I assure the Committee that there is an abundance of evidence that can be made available to you from which you can draw your own conclusions.

My conclusion is that there was a disconnect between Education’s bureaucracy in Grand Bahama and Education’s establishment in Nassau, and that what was known in Grand Bahama was not known in Nassau at an appropriate, early time and date.

The Government will support the Committee and the Government will cooperate with the Committee.

17 COMMENTS

  1. @media
    You are missing the point here media IMHO. I don’t think any of the posters thought that matter should not be dealt with, I think they just wondered how sincere these politicians are. Most of them if not all have an agenda and I don’t think it is about us, it is about scoring points. I hear the PM say that a public servant will be retired for sexual harrassment, isn’t that an offence, shouldn’t he/she be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Any motion brought in the HOA is a collaborative effort, so I guess you will have to credit the PLP with that one. Personally I have never seen any results from these committees. Get real people involved! Look at the make up of the committee selected, they can’t be serious!

  2. media :Now Bahamas Press has good memory. On two weeks ago when Glenys Hanna-Martin brought this motion to Parliament for the appointment of a select committee to investigate these WICKED CRIMES at the Eight Mile Rock High School, here is what some bloggers on BP said.
    RUDY: “Glenys just as bad as Carl, all for show!! Prosecute the bastard and let the politicians continue to play their games. She has no credibility, always promoting someone else’s agenda! Why not call for a commission to invesitgate what is going on in all of these schools. Why is Freeport or Grand Bahama such a priority with her. She is just a Hot headed puppet!”
    JR: “Glenys is a grandstander. She was the spokesman on Collie but she didn’t take him down all by her self so get that straight. The biggest giant Glenys is slaying is the PLP itself.”
    Thomas Finly: SAW THE MOTION LAUGHABLE…
    JOE: “You joking right! Please its politicians like Hanna Martin who has a petty agenda and trust me she ain’t speaking for no children.”
    OBJECTIVE THOUGHT suggested that we were writing the story with our eyes close, be he was reading it with his mind close!
    All in all it appears that these persons agree with the actions of Andre Birbal and his CLANDESTINE PEDOPHILE LOVERS. We hope, and SERIOUSLY HOPE, none of these persons were involved in that ‘VICKED’ GROUP! And if they were not, why were they attacking the VOICE OF Justice for young people? And now that the Prime Minister has joined Martin and supported her motion, why, why, like the song says, “YA CAN’T FIND JERRY ROKER IN TOWN!” they’re all gone, disappeared and silent in posting on here? We hope these people didn’t practice what we preach against.
    Bahamas Press/editor
    [Reply]

    Glennys should have been given credit and not criticized for her efforts. The woman had the balls to stand up talk about the injustice that was done to those children, when Carl Bethel looked like he just wanted it all to go away. I was told not to blame Carl, but yet some saw fit to criticize and question Glennys motive, when she was actually trying to do something for the victims of EMRH. Don’t worry about what her motives were, at least now we are seeing something positive happening because of her having a motive. Our Prime Minister is now addressing the issue and expressing his disgust over the whole situation and I can’t wait for the people who stood by and did nothing while that animal raped our young men heads to start rolling.

  3. @WOW!

    Wow I with you on that. This is ridiculous. Ingraham have them terrified and I wonder why. Think he scares them in check with that big, ugly watermelon head?….lol……

  4. Ok BP, I have confirmed that Mrs. Grant voted FOR the select committee. Please explain to me how you stand in the HOA, emphatically state that you do NOT support the motion, in fact claim that the motion is a BAD idea, state that the residents of your constituency do NOT support the appointment of a committee, claim that the students at the EMR High School do not want the committee appointed, and then proceed to immediately vote in FAVOR of it. Boy, HI have them in check, not a spine, intestine, or pair of balls between the 23 of these FNM MP’s combined, including big, bad Kenyatta.

  5. I am not that impressed with the Prime Minister and his prouncements in parliament, because this matter was raised a long time ago, They are simply ashamed, that you the bloggers did not let it die. No more, no less.

    “late again”, Mr. Prime Minister!

  6. Now Bahamas Press has good memory. On two weeks ago when Glenys Hanna-Martin brought this motion to Parliament for the appointment of a select committee to investigate these WICKED CRIMES at the Eight Mile Rock High School, here is what some bloggers on BP said.

    RUDY: “Glenys just as bad as Carl, all for show!! Prosecute the bastard and let the politicians continue to play their games. She has no credibility, always promoting someone else’s agenda! Why not call for a commission to invesitgate what is going on in all of these schools. Why is Freeport or Grand Bahama such a priority with her. She is just a Hot headed puppet!”

    JR: “Glenys is a grandstander. She was the spokesman on Collie but she didn’t take him down all by her self so get that straight. The biggest giant Glenys is slaying is the PLP itself.”

    Thomas Finly: SAW THE MOTION LAUGHABLE…

    JOE: “You joking right! Please its politicians like Hanna Martin who has a petty agenda and trust me she ain’t speaking for no children.”

    OBJECTIVE THOUGHT suggested that we were writing the story with our eyes close, be he was reading it with his mind close!

    All in all it appears that these persons agree with the actions of Andre Birbal and his CLANDESTINE PEDOPHILE LOVERS. We hope, and SERIOUSLY HOPE, none of these persons were involved in that ‘VICKED’ GROUP! And if they were not, why were they attacking the VOICE OF Justice for young people? And now that the Prime Minister has joined Martin and supported her motion, why, why, like the song says, “YA CAN’T FIND JERRY ROKER IN TOWN!” they’re all gone, disappeared and silent in posting on here? We hope these people didn’t practice what we preach against.

    Bahamas Press/editor

  7. @WOW!
    Boy WOW if this site was not rated G we would have a special name for the lady MP. She has therefore earned the honour of being the WUTLESS MP FOR THE WEEK!

    BP

  8. So where does this leave the member for Eight Mile Rock who so eloquently (to use the word VERY lightly) against the appointment of the Committee? Did they vote as yet? If so, how did she vote? She is truly “WUTLESS”! Looks can only carry you so far.

  9. @Drama King
    Drama King, I agree with you on this matter, show us Mr. Prime Minister just how disturbed you are and put the hatchet to this Minister we have tolerated his failings long enough.

  10. Ahh BP you broke this story in the first place!! I was so busy dealing with the Kongwa man, I forgot about this.

    PM Ingraham steps up and speaks out!! Way to go Hubigetty!! Now show us how DISTURBED you REALLY ARE and get rid of your MINISTER OF EDUCATION. He is lousy and deserves to be GONE!!!!

  11. Yes Bahamas Press I was very impressed with the Prime Minister,he seemed very sincere and greatly disturbed that teachers were sexually abusing these children.However,i must also express my thanks to you,Bahamas Press for informing us about those unspeakable,evil and distateful deeds that were performed on these children.Once again Bahamas Press thanks for your bravery and courage for exposing the truth!

  12. media :OH we at Bahamas Press was soooooooo proud of our Prime Minister today. HUBERTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT YOU MADE US PROUD TODAY!
    Ingraham’s comments put even that WUTLESS MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT for Eight Mile Rock to shame! He said we as Bahamians are not disgust enough over these sexual molestation issues. HUBERT IS RIGHT!!!!
    I wonder where Findley and some others who thought Hanna-Martin was playing politics [Jr you was not in that too ech?]. After seeing the Leader of the FNM (OUR PRIME MINISTER) agreed with us and the hundreds of parents at the school, we now know HUBERT CARES STILL FOR THE PEOPLE!
    Hubert Ingraham is SIMPLY THE BEST! And Hanna-Martin is just a rising NATIONAL HERO!
    We warned Carl Bethel, THAT THIS WILL NOT DIE! WE REPEATED THAT MANY TIMES, but he underestimated the power the bloggers, who make up thousands of voices!
    Today during the debate we kept hearing members refer to newspaper articles on this issue, but we wonder what newspaper they were reading? The Tribune echoed the ministry, suggesting that because one of the students was out-of-school, nothing could come out of the matter. But our sources in Grand Bahama gave us all the details. And as OUR Prime Minister said today, heads will roll in the government departments a few days from now.
    AMEN PRIME MINISTER,AAAAAAAAAAAMEN!
    Bahamas Press/Editor
    [Reply]

    Media I am glad that something is finally being done; my only problem is why it had to take so long for him to react. Right now, I am questioning if Glenys Hanna Martin had something to do with him finally speaking out or is he really disgusted. Anyway, I guess it don’t matter now, at least he there now and he wants justice. Like you say, we really ought to give it to him.

  13. kevin mckenzie :
    Well done prime minister Ingraham! Now please name and shame this high ranking civil servant.I hope that other members of the public that were critics of Bahamas Press investigation of the incident involving a cabinet minister’s son and a young girl at Queens college now realize that a crime was committed and cover up by the administration at QC.Now all the Prime Minister needs to do is have the police conduct an investigation into Clico.
    EditDe-linkModerateSpamDelete[Reply]

    Now Kenvin you must give it to the PM! I mean did you listen to his communication today? He actually in so many words REBUKED some of his own members over this matter. The PM actually told the mover, he will give papers to the committee which he himself found disturbing. No No you gata give it to him Kevin, the man hit a home run today!

    Now what I am not hearing those VICKED PLPS say is this, “WHERE WAS CHRISTIE’s voice in all this?” Christie never spoke to the motion today. WHAT A SHAME!!!!!!!!! In case those PLP bloggers are not aware, Friday is now ‘Christie Day’ on BP. This Friday will be NO different, we have a treat for him.

    BP

  14. OH we at Bahamas Press was soooooooo proud of our Prime Minister today. HUBERTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT YOU MADE US PROUD TODAY!

    Ingraham’s comments put even that WUTLESS MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT for Eight Mile Rock to shame! He said we as Bahamians are not disgust enough over these sexual molestation issues. HUBERT IS RIGHT!!!!

    I wonder where Findley and some others who thought Hanna-Martin was playing politics [Jr you was not in that too ech?]. After seeing the Leader of the FNM (OUR PRIME MINISTER) agreed with us and the hundreds of parents at the school, we now know HUBERT CARES STILL FOR THE PEOPLE!

    Hubert Ingraham is SIMPLY THE BEST! And Hanna-Martin is just a rising NATIONAL HERO!

    We warned Carl Bethel, THAT THIS WILL NOT DIE! WE REPEATED THAT MANY TIMES, but he underestimated the power the bloggers, who make up thousands of voices!

    Today during the debate we kept hearing members refer to newspaper articles on this issue, but we wonder what newspaper they were reading? The Tribune echoed the ministry, suggesting that because one of the students was out-of-school, nothing could come out of the matter. But our sources in Grand Bahama gave us all the details. And as OUR Prime Minister said today, heads will roll in the government departments a few days from now.

    AMEN PRIME MINISTER,AAAAAAAAAAAMEN!

    Bahamas Press/Editor

  15. No, this is really a disgrace how long Ingraham took to comment on this, he should have dealt with this situation a long time ago after he realized Carl Bethel was not capable of handling it.

  16. Well done prime minister Ingraham! Now please name and shame this high ranking civil servant.I hope that other members of the public that were critics of Bahamas Press investigation of the incident involving a cabinet minister’s son and a young girl at Queens college now realize that a crime was committed and cover up by the administration at QC.Now all the Prime Minister needs to do is have the police conduct an investigation into Clico.

  17. Finally the PM has spoken out on the wrong that was done to those children at EMRH. I guess it is better late than never, because I had already made up my mind we had a cold leader who simply did not care about how those children at EMRH were abused. I am just glad he finally woke up and smells the coffee and is willing to get to the bottom of this. First thing first, he needs to deal with that wutless minister of Education, because he is full of crap. Another thing, how the hell a child molester like Andre Birbal could be getting good evaluations every year? Something is not right about that, they need to do something with that principal as well, her head can’t be good.

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