Sabga Report probe continues at 2 children’s homes

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Police visit the St Dominic’s Children’s Home on Tuesday. – Roger Jacob

FOR the second consecutive day police visited St Dominic’s Children’s Home as investigations into allegations of abuse at children’s homes continue.

After their first visit St Dominic’s in Belmont on Tuesday, officers assigned to the Child Protection Unit left with documents pertaining to the staff, dating back some 25 years.

Officers spent about four hours at the facility interviewing a current senior member of staff who was a nun when victims attended the institution. Other remaining staff from that period were also interviewed.

Police also photographed areas where the abuse allegedly took place.

They returned on Wednesday with a locksmith to gain access to a file cabinet and left with more documents. Police said they stayed for about three hours at the institution on that occasion.

Simultaneously, another group of officers visited the St Mary’s Children’s Home in Tacarigua. This was the second time that officers visited the institution. The first time was last week, when three officers visited and interviewed staff who would have been around 25 years ago. On Wednesday, one officer returned and interviewed one member of staff and promised to return to interview two others.

While there, the officer was informed about two girls who ran away some weeks ago. One returned and then absconded shortly after. A mobile medical centre was brought to the Tacarigua facility and some of the children were given free medical attention.

The police investigation started in May after the Prime Minister asked acting Commissioner of Police Mc Donald Jacob to locate a 25-year-old government sanctioned report into children’s homes that alleged abuse of all kinds.

A nine-member team led by Dr Robert Sabga, looked into the affairs of children’s homes and found reports of rampant sexual, physical and emotional abuse where at least 40 children were alleged victims. The report, which was completed in 1997, remained private until earlier this year when Sabga spoke out about it.

Head of the Special Victims Department Supt Claire Guy-Alleyne, in May, called on victims to come forward and assist police with the investigation after Dr Rowley insisted that Jacob not only located the the Sabga report but act on it. Since then several people have stepped forward to assist police saying they were victims.

A second report into children’s homes, spearheaded by retired Justice Judith Jones was laid in Parliament on April 29. That report also highlighted abuse at children’s homes.

Police said they were yet to begin investigating reports of abuse stemming from Jones’ report given the volume of work that the Sabga report alone generated.

The Roman Catholic Church which controls 12 children’s homes and nurseries are assisting police as two of its institutions were named in Jones’ report, namely St Jude’s and St Dominic’s. After the Jones’ report was laid in Parliament, Archbishop Jason Gordon ordered an investigation into the allegations of child abuse at homes run by his church.

On Wednesday, Fr Robert Christo, the church’s Vicar for Communications told Newsday that the church is co-operating with police in their investigations.

Senior police officers investigating the allegations said everyone was co-operating well with the police.

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