Chairman troubled by arrest of Clifton Boys’ Home employees
Reverend Hartley Perrin, the chairman of the Westmoreland-based Clifton Boys’ Home, has described as “troubling” the latest news surrounding the arrest of three of the facility’s former employees for allegedly physically abusing several wards.
“I have spoken to the acting superintendent, and everybody is very sad and in a sombre mood because the charges are grave. I am really troubled and disturbed by the matter and the fact that it is playing out like this,” Perrin told The Sunday Gleaner on Friday.
Irene McDonald, the 80-year-old former superintendent of the 60-year-old boys’ home, was on Thursday arrested and charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm and unlawful wounding. Her 58-year-old son, William McDonald, who served as the home’s assistant manager, and her 35-year-old granddaughter, Rasheda McDonald, a housekeeper at the facility, were both charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
Perrin, who is also Westmoreland’s custos, expressed particular disappointment that Irene McDonald, whose employment with the home was previously suspended, had to be let go under such circumstances.
“They are not there anymore, so going up there to talk with them is neither here nor there because they are not the people running the place anymore. But seeing an 80-year-old woman [Irene McDonald], who has served for so many years, having to leave under these circumstances, it is very unfortunate,” said Perrin.
Meanwhile, in a release on Friday, the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) said it continues to work with the police in investigating the matter.
“The CPFSA is aware of the arrest of staff members of the Clifton Boys’ Home by the Jamaica Constabulary Force in connection with allegations of physical abuse. The CPFSA takes a zero-tolerance approach to all forms of violence against children and is cooperating with the police as they carry out their investigations,” the release stated.
Robert Nesta Morgan, the minister of state in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, said in the release that child caregivers have a great responsibility for the protection of those under their charge.
“Persons within the child protection system are prescribed persons and have a greater duty of care under the provisions of the Child Care and Protection Act (CCPA, 2004),” said Morgan.
HISTORY OF ABUSE
The McDonalds were arrested and charged following police investigations into allegations that eight of the home’s 21 wards, who were between 10 and 17 years of age, were abused by the trio between March 2016 and March 2021. The CPFSA had also carried out a probe into the allegations.
According to the police, on one occasion, William McDonald reportedly used an iron chair to beat the 17-year-old boy, and on another occasion, he used a piece of board to beat a 15-year-old boy and dragged another boy down a set of stairs.
Additionally, Irene McDonald reportedly beat four other children, resulting in bruises and a wound to one of them. On another occasion, Rasheda McDonald physically assaulted two boys.