PORT OF SPAIN –– Police have opened an investigation into who was responsible for the sexual abuse of a 12-year-old girl who recently gave birth to a baby boy at the San Fernando General Hospital.
The probe is, however, being complicated by the fact that the police now have two different reports of how the Form One student came to be impregnated. One of them is that she became pregnant by one of two family members who were sexually abusing her. The other is that she was raped by a man who had gone to their home to conduct repairs.
The incident has been confirmed by hospital officials and officers from the Children’s Protection Unit of T&T Police Service.
The T&T Guardian was told that when the girl became impregnanted she was living with her mother, who is nursing a medical condition, and father. But after giving birth to a baby boy at the hospital on April 23, she and her baby moved in with other relatives.
The police were tipped off that the child had for several months been a victim of sexual abuse by two male relatives, but her family tried to cover it up. She was reportedly taken out of school and arrangements were made for her to have a home delivery. However, the child developed complications at home and had to be rushed to the hospital, officers were told. In keeping with hospital’s policy, officials contacted the police because the girl is a minor.
But when the child was interviewed last week by Children Protection Unit officers she related a totally different story about her pregnancy, one which involved sexual assault.
The child told them that sometime ago, a stranger pulled up in front their house with a car. She was alone at home. The man, she said, told her he came to check the meter box. However, he soon dragged her inside the house and raped her. She told the investigators he threatened to kill her if she said anything. The girl said she told no one she was pregnant until she was in her third trimester.
Detectives are investigating all angles, including the veracity of her second story, as they continue their investigations. Contacted Sunday, TTPS Victim and Witness Support Unit head Margaret Sampson-Brown said she was aware of the report, having been informed via the media a few days ago.
“I did seek to have a conversation with the Victim Support officer and the matter has been referred to the Children’s Protection Unit and the Children’s Authority.” She said she was not aware of the details, but she said her organisation was standing by and ready to provide any assistance requested.
Meanwhile, the T&T Guardian was also told another investigation has been launched into a report that a 14-year-old girl gave birth at the same hospital three weeks ago.
Last week the Children’s Protection Unit head, Superintendent Odette Lewis, said there had been 358 cases before the courts arising out of 1,709 reports of child abuse between May last year to February. Although the required staff for the unit is 216, inclusive of ten civilians, she said the current staff was 99 with one civilian.
Complaining further about staff shortage, a police officer said: “The units are seriously understaffed and it is affecting our ability to do our work efficiently. They passed a cabinet note so long for us to get 35 SRPs to assist throughout the country, but so far nothing doing with that.
“Additionally, SRPs don’t investigate serious crimes so they won’t be doing investigations and they work 40 hours a month so when they complete their hours they will be staying home and the shifts will still be short.”
The officer appealed to the powers to urgently address the situation.