PORT OF SPAIN (TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO)
Daily Express [Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago]
May 20, 2022
By Anna Ramdass
Former Ward at St. Dominic’s Children’s Home Recalls Ordeal of Being Raped at 9 Years Old
A man who was sexually abused over 25 years ago, when he was about nine years old, wants the “sexual monster” to be brought to justice.
The man who shared his heart-wrenching experience with the Express yesterday said he is willing to tell all to the police, in the hope that the abuser, who sexually abused 30 to 40 children at the home, is finally held accountable for the crimes he committed which left him and many others shattered and traumatised for life.
The victim provided a detailed account of the horror he endured at the hands of the man, including being fondled by a priest who was aware that he was abused , and a Sister at the home who burnt all the kitchen towels after learning the perpetrator used these to clean up after sexually abusing the children.
On Monday, after Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley publicly called on acting Police Commissioner McDonald Jacob to find and investigate the 1997 Robert Sabga report into children’s homes, the victim, Bradley (not his real name), messaged the Prime Minister via social media and questioned whether his abuser (name provided but who will be referred to as “Mr X” by the Express) can be prosecuted.
He informed the Prime Minister that he was the one who “blew the lid” on Mr X which resulted in his resignation from the home.
The Sabga report raised a red flag over sexual abuse at the St Dominic’s home and recommended the immediate termination of the Sister who managed the home, and a thorough investigation with full legal implications.
The report noted that no action was taken against the abuser who committed repeated sexual abuses against the children, but instead was reprimanded and asked to resign.
‘I am evidence’
Bradley told the Express yesterday he is enraged that nothing was done in the face of this report, that the police took no action and that he and the 40 other boys who were abused never got justice.
He said he was also angry when he read Sabga saying that the police will be “chasing ghosts”, and former social development minister Manohar Ramsaran stating there was no evidence.
“I am evidence, it happened to me, it was all covered up; the home failed us, the then government failed us, the task force failed us. Nothing was done, the police could have investigated and gotten the evidence, there were many of us,” he said.
Bradley said he was taken from his family’s home by court order as a toddler and placed at the St Dominic’s home where he spent his first few years at the nursery and then went on to the Saint Martin department where a number of boys were housed.
He said Mr X was the supervisor of this department, and the boys saw him as a “role model” because he was a former resident of the home and he was then in charge and held a commanding authority.
At the time, he said Mr X was slim, in his 20s, with light brown complexion and was the youngest supervisor at the institution.
While he was admired, he was also feared because “when Mr X shared licks, it was licks like peas; we were afraid of him, he would use a cane or a leather belt on us if the bed was untidy or if our shoes were dirty”.
Bradley said Mr X was management’s favourite and had privileges, such as taking some of the boys home on weekends.
This, he said, could not have happened without the approval of management.
He said later on in life, he learnt from other boys that they were sexually abused at Mr X’s home.
‘It was awful and painful’
Bradley said the Saint Martin department of the home comprised two floors and an attic area- the upper level had the beds and the lower level the dining and kitchen area.
“My bed was closer to the staircase and I could see who was going downstairs at night. When Mr X had the night shift, from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., I would see boys going down at night quietly,” he said.
“I remember one night I was asleep and I felt someone touching me; Mr X was in a short pants and T-shirt and he signalled to me to go downstairs, I was fearful and was wondering what I did wrong. I complied and went downstairs. He came after and took off my clothes and started to touch me inappropriately; he took off his clothes and rubbed his body on mine,” he said, adding that the abuse took place in a dark dining room area near the pantry.
“He said to remain quiet and threatened me, and told me if I said anything he would deal with me. I was scared to death, I did not know this was abuse; I did not know what was happening, I was about nine or ten years old,” he added.
Bradley said Mr X came a second time in the middle of the night and ordered him downstairs and repeated the sexual acts.
“He took off my clothes and did the same routine; he asked me if I liked it and I did not say anything. This time, he went a bit further and placed my private part in his mouth; he played with my private part and he also played with himself. I was fearful and he repeated to keep quiet or else,” he said.
On the third occasion, Bradley said Mr X sexually penetrated him.
“He woke me up, put his finger on his lip to keep quiet and pointed to the steps. In the same area by the dining table, Mr X penetrated me; it was awful and painful and he said to find a way to stay quiet. I was just standing there like a mannequin and he was doing as he pleased,” said Bradley.
He said each encounter of sexual abuse lasted about 15 to 20 minutes.
Second round of abuse
Bradley said he was a pupil at the Saint Martin’s RC Primary School, and his teacher (name called) noticed his behaviour had changed and he was withdrawn and in a daze.
He said she kept asking him what was wrong, and he divulged the sexual abuse he suffered by Mr X.
The teacher, he said, told the principal who in turn called the home’s manager (all names called).
Bradley said several of the home’s management, in terms of the Sisters, were informed of what happened.
“The headmistress who was in charge of the department burnt all the towels and got new towels,” he said.
Mr X was called and told to immediately come to the office as it was his day off, he said.
He said Mr X was confronted and asked about the abuse, and he confessed that he had sexually abused Bradley and others.
“He was asked to resign and he resigned with immediate effect, and he left the compound and that was it. Even after I told them what happened, I was never medically examined, the home didn’t provide any counselling,” said Bradley.
Bradley said after this ordeal, he was subjected to a second encounter of abuse.
He said at the time the boys at the home used to clean the church, and one Saturday the resident priest tried to sexually molest him.
“I was an acolyte and one Saturday I was cleaning the church sacristy, the area where the robes, candles and wines are stored; it is place behind the altar where the priest would come to prepare for mass.
“The resident priest entered and he was talking to me and said he heard what had happened, and he said, ‘Don’t worry, I will be here for you,’ and then he started to touch me and kiss me. He rubbed himself on me and then he stopped because at the same time a Sister came in looking for him,” said Bradley.
He said no action was taken against anyone and when he was about 12 years old, the home said he was to return to live with his mother.
“My family doesn’t know anything and it is something I can never share with them,” he said.
Bradley said later when he was around 19 years old, a gay friend took him to a place called “the Boy Code” and he saw Mr X there.
“Mr X walked up to me and said, ‘You see, you like this from long time. You make me lose my wuk for nothing.’ I said nothing and just walked away,” he said.
Message to PM
Bradley said he has struggled with the abuse he suffered throughout his life.
Today, he is married and has a family of his own who does not know the secret he holds that weighs heavy on his heart and causes his continued pain, trauma and nightmares. “I have a family now and they don’t know anything about what transpired. I do not feel comfortable sharing this with them,” he said.
He said when he read the Sabga report online on social media, he was in shock.
Bradley said he believes had he not spoken out, Mr X would have had many more victims at the home, but since he was never brought to justice, he may have gone elsewhere and found victims.
He said he messaged the PM’s Facebook page because he hopes that justice can be served. He said he has also reached out to the police.
More victims, he said, would be willing to come forward if the police can ensure that they are protected and this will not be another matter that dies in the court system.
“I also appreciate the statements from the Archbishop; it’s definitely not too late to hold these people accountable,” said Bradley.