Sat | Oct 31, 2020

Hampton principal seeks to explain presence at pastor's sexual offence hearing

Published:Thursday | January 5, 2017 | 12:00 AMSherine Williams
Pastor Rupert Clarke is led from the St Elizabeth Parish Court Wednesday after appearing on a charge of having sex with a minor. Pictured in foreground is Hampton School principal Heather Murray.

The principal of the Hampton School, Heather Murray, has issued a statement defending her presence at the bail hearing of a Moravian minister of religion who is charged with having sex with a minor.

While outside the St Elizabeth Parish Court, Murray reportedly tried to block The Gleaner's photographer from taking a photograph of the Moravian minister, Rupert Clarke.

Since then, Murray has faced huge public backlash, particularly from persons on social media who claim that Murray's presence at the hearing was appalling, especially in light of her position as principal of an all-girls institution. In the statement last night, Murray sought "to set the record straight", stating that she went to the hearing in support of the minister's wife, who, she says, is a high-school friend of hers.

"We are both long-time educators who have been serving together for many years on several boards, committees, and commissions. We are both justices of the peace. Such is the closeness of our relationship that when the news broke, I was, naturally, the first person to whom she turned for solace and support. I have not left her side since because I know that my friend needs me. She reached out to me as a wife, mother, and friend," Murray explained in the release.

She further explained, "My presence at the court was to be there for my friend who needed my moral support. As a wife, mother of two daughters, and principal with responsibility for 1,220 young ladies, I have sought always to protect and defend them and the young children of Jamaica. That has not and will never change."

The police report that at about 9 o'clock on the night of December 28, a team was on patrol in a community near Santa Cruz when they observed a parked car that aroused their suspicion.

They went to investigate and reportedly found the pastor in a compromising position with a 15-year-old child.

He was immediately taken into custody and was charged. Clarke has been granted bail in the sum of $800,000. He must have one or two sureties and is to return to court on February 13.