Name: David Smith
Family status: married, father of 5
Occupation: Primary school Headteacher in Tobago’s Seventh Day Adventist School (West Indies)
Religion: Senior Elder in the Tobago Seventh Day Adventist church (West Indies)
Reason for appearance in court (Feb. 2014): 75 charges of sexual abuse against children aged 10-12, later reduced to 15 charges. Bail set at $TT 0.4 million (£40,000)
Most recent church appearance: preached to a full SDA congregation the previous week; his sermon was very well received.
After the first court appearance: a crowd of his Adventist supporters cheered him as he emerged from the court house…..
I wonder if that was not an ill-advised thing to do. The world, or at least the local press in Trinidad and Tobago, which I read, were watching. He must be considered innocent until proved guilty. (As I write Dave Lee Travis, a BBC DJ, has been found innocent on groping charges.) But what if… If this pillar of the community, a community where everyone knows everyone else’s business, is a paedophile – what then? Were some of the children’s parents among those who applauded him? He’s been suspended from his official position in the church, he has to be. His deputy has taken charge of the school – he can’t stay there as everyone would be suspicious of him, there would be absolutely no trust.
Will the SDA church behave like the Vatican and send Smith to another posting ? The hierarchy covered up last time, as I said when the same thing happened during my last visit to the country six months ago: transparency and a new code of conduct are needed in cases where adults have opportunities to abuse kids either sexually, physically or emotionally.
Middle aged, middle class men with power will always abuse it whether in a secular or an ecclesiastical institution. The only difference is the degree of abuse of power. If they’re sexual predators then extreme measures must be taken to render them harmless. If they’re found guilty then past experience shows they are intrinsically recidivist and whatever they say they can never be trusted around kids again. In the previous case I reported the cover up had been going on for 2 years. Maybe today’s guy aided and abetted the cover-up? (Just speculating, as bloggers are wont to do.) Just like the Vatican, they put the reputation of the institution before the welfare and the rights of the children.
More women in top positions and full support for the victims and their families are vital. At the moment this sub-christian sect seems to be in denial, just like their arch-foes the RCs were 10 years ago. Who on earth allowed these theological Neanderthals to run their own schools (and a ‘University’!) in the first place. They should all be shut down. If they’re anything like the schools in the UK (and I have worked as a supply teacher in a dreadful SDA secondary school in Tottenham that the council closed down as not being fit for purpose) then amongst their other flaws they teach our children lies about evolution. This cannot be called education! Shame on them all! Send them all packing! America keep your Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and all the rest of them to yourselves – we don’t want any of them!
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