(JAMAICA GLEANER) — A pastor based in Hanover has been charged with seven counts of rape, with children from several western Jamaica communities among his alleged victims.
He is scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday. The police have not disclosed his name.
“We can confirm that a pastor was arrested on rape charges but we cannot provide you with any more information than that which was released by the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s Corporate Communications Unit today,” a senior police officer in Hanover told The Gleaner yesterday.
However, The Gleaner has since learned that the accused pastor is originally from the Norwood community in St James and may have associations with a religious group that has appeared on the radar of the police.
“We are not even sure of his correct name because he goes by various names,” a resident of the Sandy Bay community, where he was arrested, told The Gleaner yesterday.
“We are hearing that several children have been molested by this man, so we are anxious to see what will come out in court,” the resident added.
According to the police statement, patrolmen saw the accused pastor beating a child at a location on Barnes Lane in the Montpelier community, in Sandy Bay, that on Monday, December 10. During their investigation, allegations of sexual misconduct were made against the pastor.
Subsequent investigations by detectives from the Hanover branch of the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA) led to additional allegations of sexual offences being levelled against the pastor by other children and their relatives.
The pastor was subsequently arrested and charged.
Investigators are now appealing to persons who may have incriminating information against the accused to make contact with the Hanover office of CISOCA at 876-953-5312, or 956-2304, police 119 emergency number, or the nearest police station.
Allegation of sexual exploitation by religious groups recently surfaced in Montego Bay, resulting in the police raiding the Qahal Yahweh Church in Norwood, St James, and forcibly removing several children, whose relatives had accused the organisation of exploiting the children sexually and otherwise.
It was alleged that Yahweh group was condoning marriages between girls as young as 15 years old and much older men. Some of the youngsters were reportedly impregnated by the men assigned to them as husbands by the group.