KINGSTON, Jamaica, Tuesday January 10, 2017 – Allegations of sexual misconduct against a Moravian pastor are threatening to divide the church amid fresh claims that the head of the religious body has been turning a blind eye to the situation.
Last December, police arrested Rupert Clarke, 64, after he was allegedly caught with a teenager in a compromising position in his car. He was granted bail in the sum of J$800,000 (US$6,211) when he appeared in court last Wednesday and ordered to re-appear on February 13.
However, the pastor’s legal troubles are mounting as fresh allegations of sexual misconduct emerge.
At the height of the scandal, a former Moravian minister suggests the church is partly to blame.
Dr Canute Thompson, who was dismissed from the church’s ranks almost two years ago because of “disrespect” for the church’s leadership, told the Jamaica Observer newspaper it was not the first allegation levelled against Clarke.
Thompson revealed that he had called on the head of the church, Dr Paul Gardner, to investigate similar charges against Clarke in 2014.
He claimed that his pleas were ignored and the church failed to appropriately handle charges of misconduct, including “different rules for different individuals”.
“I have consistently raised with the church, going back to the 80s, what I have seen as double standards,” Thompson told the newspaper.
However, Dr Gardner told the Jamaica Observer that he had received no previous complaints against Clarke.
But Thompson countered by releasing a series of emails with Dr Gardner about allegations against Clarke.
One email published by the Jamaica Gleaner dated February 3, 2014 showed that Gardner responded to Thompson’s concerns about Clarke.
“I appreciate (your) bringing the matter about Rupert to my attention. We are doing what we can to ascertain the facts and act accordingly,” Gardner had responded.