KINGSTON, Jamaica, Tuesday January 17, 2017 – There has been some more serious fallout in and outside the Moravian Church in Jamaica which has been shaken by allegations of sexual misconduct within its ranks.
Church president Dr Paul Gardner and his deputy Jermaine Gibson have resigned from the church’s highest body – the Provincial Elders Conference – which has embarked on a mission to get to the bottom of the embarrassing scandal.
According to the Jamaica Observer newspaper, the executive is mounting a probe into the damning allegations after receiving a letter containing charges of sexual abuse.
The church’s troubles erupted after 67-year-old Pastor Rupert Clarke was charged with carnal abuse and rape of a 15-year-old girl on January 3.
Clarke was granted bail when he appeared in court. However, this week, the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA) disclosed that the disgraced religious leader will be slapped with a second charge of carnal abuse resulting from an alleged sexual relationship with one of the minor’s sisters.
Almost daily, the situation has been worsening. The Jamaica Gleaner reported that more women are sharing stories of being abused while they were young members of the church.
Most telling is a graphic email sent to the church by an alleged victim who detailed a series of incidents which began when she was 14 years old.
The church’s executive has pledged the incident will be thoroughly investigated by an independent committee.
Outside of the church, Hampton School principal Heather Murray, a close friend of the accused Clarke, has also landed in hot water.
She came under fire after attending Clarke’s bail hearing and attempting to block a television cameraman from taking footage of Clarke.
Murray later issued a statement explaining that she attended the hearing to lend support to her longtime friend, Clarke’s wife.
There have, however, been strong calls for Murray to resign, but following a meeting with Education Minister Senator Ruel Reid last week, Murray proceeded on a two-week leave and is expected to undergo counseling.
During this period time, she is expected to complete a formal report about her actions.