Not a Word from Po­lice on Des Bar­ras Child Mo­lesta­tion Al­le­ga­tions!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - Clau­dia Elei­box

Only last week Rick Wayne warned the po­lice about be­ing too forth­com­ing with the press on mat­ters un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion, for sev­eral rea­sons to do with jus­tice. But it seems they have taken Mr. Wayne’s ad­vice carte blanche. By re­li­able ac­count, last Sun­day a man was ar­rested at He­wanorra In­ter­na­tional Air­port and charged with child mo­lesta­tion. But when in­for­ma­tion was sought from the po­lice they re­fused to con­firm or deny the story, save to say that gen­er­ally they don’t com­ment on mat­ters in­volv­ing child mo­lesta­tion.

On Wed­nes­day, mo­ti­vated largely by hearsay, I jour­neyed to Des Bar­ras, the ad­dress of the man al­legedly ar­rested on Sun­day. It seemed ev­ery­one I talked with had a tale to tell about his re­la­tion­ship with young boys. Most of them said: “He was very nice and was so kind to ev­ery­one in the com­mu­nity. He would buy snacks and things for the chil­dren and in­vite them to his house all the time.” Some said he taught the kids to paint, helped with their home­work and var­i­ous school as­sign­ments. He even re­warded them with cell phones and other ex­pen­sive gifts when they did well with their Com­mon En­trance ex­ams.

Point­ing to a nearby bus stop, one man told me: “He did all these things over.” By “these things” he re­ferred to a road­side wall painted with bright, vivid land­scapes. He said he re­mem­bered the man com­ing to Des Bar­ras around 2002 and al­most right away be­came in­volved with the very young chil­dren of the com­mu­nity— un­til a few weeks ago when he dis­ap­peared. By re­li­able ac­count, he had moved to Soufriere. Ear­lier, ac­cord­ing to in­formed sources, the mother of a 9-year-old boy and a hos­pi­tal rep­re­sen­ta­tive had alerted the po­lice, based on what they had learned from the child about his re­la­tion­ship with the painter.

For what­ever rea­sons the man was never ar­rested, un­til Sun­day, as he pre­pared to board a flight to Canada, osten­si­bly on an as­sign­ment for the tourism au­thor­ity. Sources there have de­nied that story. Nev­er­the­less, the man’s ticket in­di­cated that from Canada he planned to go via the UK to Swe­den, where he had friends. There was no in­di­ca­tion he in­tended to re­turn any time soon to Saint Lu­cia.

A Des Bar­ras res­i­dent said: “This is so hard to be­lieve, that some­one who came here with such a good spirit would do some­thing like that.” As to whether she ac­tu­ally be­lieved all she’d heard about the case, she said: “I don’t know, I’m wait­ing for what the news has to say about it, but I don’t think a child so young would lie about such a thing. He said he was in pain and all of that.”

Es­pe­cially wor­ry­ing to com­mu­nity mem­bers I spoke with were the rev­e­la­tions that in­di­cate there may be sev­eral other vic­tims whose par­ents are too em­bar­rassed or scared to come for­ward, hav­ing per­mit­ted their young boys to visit the sus­pect’s home at all hours un­su­per­vised. Many be­lieved the kids were re­ceiv­ing free tu­ition.

Some said they had sus­pi­cions that the man had de­vi­ous mo­tives for prac­ti­cally adopt­ing so many young boys from very poor fam­i­lies. One woman blamed the par­ents: “I say that some of them too souti­wèz [com­plicit]. He was liv­ing alone, he had no woman in the house and you still send­ing your chil­dren to his house and tak­ing things from him? And it’s not the first time that I heard that kind of story. Peo­ple used to say he was do­ing things, and he was on a side, and what not. You know you don’t al­ways take what peo­ple say as truth. But now look what’s be­ing said.”

An­other woman re­called feel­ing un­easy when­ever the man en­coun­tered her with her young daugh­ter: “He would see her and say, ‘What a pretty, pretty girl, so nice and cute,’ and he would reach out to touch her. But I would go home and tell my daugh­ter he can think she’s pretty but don’t take any­thing from him and don’t go near him with­out telling me.”

Just be­fore press time we took a call from a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the tourism au­thor­ity. He said the man ar­rested on Sun­day was on his way to paint a mu­ral at a Saint Lu­cia-owned restau­rant in Canada. He had a com­pli­men­tary air­line ticket from WestJet. He should’ve trav­elled in Oc­to­ber but post­poned his trip to Novem­ber, which would give him enough time to get a visa. When he did not show up on sched­ule the restau­ra­teur learned he had been ar­rested by the lo­cal po­lice at He­wanorra.

Mean­while no re­lated word from the ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter or the cops!

Paint­ings used to up­lift the Des Bar­ras com­mu­nity now serve as a re­minder that things are not al­ways as they seem.

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