Last week, we reported on the case of the Valley of Peace Primary School principal who was arraigned for sexual assault of a minor. That minor is a standard 6 student at the school. As we told you, the child reported to police that she was feeling ill and went to the principal’s office where he allegedly kissed her and tried to touch her inappropriately. The accused principal has denied the allegations but he was charged last week and appeared in the Belmopan Magistrates court on Wednesday where he was read a single charge of “sexual assault”. He is out on bail and is to return to court on August 21. In the meantime, he remains the principal of the school until Management decides whether or not to place him on administrative leave. Since then, there has now been another allegation that is currently being investigated by police. This time, an 11 year old standard 3 student says that the same principal also kissed her on her mouth on one occasion when she went to his office. Police have not pressed any charges in this second matter as yet as they are still conducting investigations. Yesterday, the Minister of Education was asked to comment on the matter.
Hon. Patrick Faber, Deputy Prime Minister: I have not received an official report of that so I don’t feel comfortable commenting on it but in so far as you want to comment on our position on any kind of abuse, including the use of corporal punishment; I’ve gone on record recently reminding people that our ministry has a zero tolerance for corporal punishment in our schools and it has a zero tolerance for sexual abuse especially in our schools. If it is that there are culprits who are found guilty of this kind of practice, whoever it is around our school community that the ministry will not tolerate that and in fact we will move with whatever swiftness we can find, we can muster and also whatever strength we can muster to deal with those who are guilty.
We had also reported on another case involving a teacher at a high school in Santa Elena who allegedly impregnated a third form student. Though the student is 18 years old, Education Minister, Patrick Faber, says that the Ministry will do its best to keep all students safe from predators.
Hon. Patrick Faber, Deputy Prime Minister: Again I have not receive an official report on that incident either although I have heard it in the grapevines so to speak and again if it is after we do our investigation, I do know that our Cayo district manager Mr. Lopez attended sessions with the schools – the school community there, those who were involved and I know we are investigating the case so if it is that we do find that kind of bad practice in place, we do not support it and we will do all that we can do to keep our children at all levels of the education system safe