|Close St Michael’s |
By CAROL MATROO Friday, July 18 2014
A WOMAN is calling on the authorities to shut down the St Michael’s Home for Boys in the wake of allegations of rampant abuse, including sexual assault, being meted out to inmates of the Home.
The woman, who gave her name as Sherry Goddard said her 14-year-old son, who is not her biological child, was sent to St Michael’s on the order of a magistrate when she (Goddard) brought him up in court two years ago for unruly and uncontrollable behaviour.
“It was the worst thing the courts could have ordered...sending him to that ‘house of horrors’. I put him in court when he began to act out after I told him he was not my biological son. He is not from my belly, but I fed him, clothed him and sheltered him. For all intents and purposes, he is my son,” Goddard said.
After being released from St Michael’s, Goddard said her son who was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) returned to court for a status report on his behaviour and the magistrate ordered him to be sent back to the Home.
“I told the magistrate, over my dead body he is going back to that place. I saw what was happening there. My son was sent there for help yet he was abused. It took the death of an inmate to force a probe which revealed all that has been taking in that Home,” Goddard said.
On Tuesday, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan revealed that he had asked Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams and Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard to launch criminal investigations into the operations of St Michael’s after he read from a report into the death of inmate Brandon Hargreaves who was found dead at the Home in April 2013.
The AG said the Hargreaves report showed chronic abuse — including sexual abuse — of inmates by supervisors, violent fights among inmates with no intervention by supervisors, violent initiation rites and the theft of items donated to the Home by members of the public and NGOs.
Goddard said she had been told by her son, some of the ways inmates were abused. “Do you know how the boys used to be awakened on morning? They would be beaten on their legs every five o’clock in the morning,” Goddard alleged.
“The supervisors used to have ‘court’ in which infractions of rules by the inmates were dealt with. One boy was punished for using the wrong toilet because he could not hold it in until his designated toilet was free.
Another was punished for walking on the grass. Do you know what the punishment was? The boys were stripped naked and they got licks,” Goddard said.
“Most of the time food at the Home were tins of sardines. Those boys were treated like real hardened criminals.” Referring to acts of homosexuality among the inmates, Goddard said during a visit to the Home, she was told who were the “girls” among the all-male inmate population.
Goddard said that whatever is revealed in the police investigation, she believes the Home, which is administered by the Anglican Church and Ministry of Youth and Gender Affairs should be closed for good.
Head of the Anglican Church Bishop Clyde Berkely has since called for a meeting with the board of the Home, to discuss the claims.