Former minister accuses Moravian Church of double standards

BY BALFORD HENRY Senior staff reporter

Monday, January 09, 2017

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A former minister of the local Moravian Church in Jamaica has accused the church leadership of applying double standards in relation to allegations of sexual misconduct against embattled pastor Rupert Clarke.

Dr Canute Thompson has called on the head of the church, Dr Paul Gardner, to state whether he had fulfilled a promise made in early 2014 to investigate allegations against 64-year-old Clarke, who was recently charged by the police with having sex with a 15-year-old girl.

Dr Thompson accused the church of being inconsistent in its response to charges of misconduct within the church, including "different rules for different individuals" in relation to a variety of issues, including allegations of sexual misconduct.

"I have consistently raised with the church, going back to the 80s, what I have seen as double standards," Dr Thompson said in a much-publicised response to Clarke’s arrest.

The police said that about 9:00 pm on Wednesday, December 28, a motorised police patrol in the deep-rural community of Austin in Myersville, south-east St Elizabeth, close to the Alpart plant in Nain, came upon a parked car in a secluded area. Further inspection revealed the pastor and the 15-year-old in what the police described as a "compromising position".

Clarke was last week released on an $800,000 bail bond after appearing in the St Elizabeth Parish Court.

Investigators say they are still following further leads as a result of allegations that the pastor may have been involved in similar behaviour, previously.

Dr Gardner, in response to Dr Thompson’s allegations, said that he had received no previous complaints about such conduct by Pastor Clarke. However, Dr Thompson yesterday challenged the comment, claiming that he had e-mail correspondence with Dr Gardner as far back as February 2014 about allegations relating to Clarke.

He said that Dr Gardner had informed him, at that time, that he was aware of the allegations and had already started an investigation.

He said that he had warned Dr Gardner that if he failed to act with precision in the matter, the church would be "in trouble".

He said that Dr Gardner now needs to explain to the church and the public whether, in fact, he knew about the allegations from 2014, whether he investigated them, and what he gathered from that investigation.

He said that he had expected that if Dr Gardner had found information relevant to Pastor Clarke’s behaviour, he would have dealt with the issue before it got this far.




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