PORT OF SPAIN – Officers of the TTPS Child Protection Unit in Tobago are investigating a series of inappropriate, vile, text messages sent to a 15-year-old schoolboy from a social media account of a Tobago House of Assembly (THA) employee.
The 34-year-old alleged offender is frequently seen on political and THA platforms, solicited the youngster for sex, according to one of the messages.
An officer of the Child Protection Unit told Guardian Media that even though a formal report had not been made “we will certainly investigate this matter.”
Guardian Media understands that the conversation took place approximately three weeks ago, but only started circulating on social media yesterday.
Under the Children Act 2012, an individual can be charged for engaging in conversation of a sexual nature with a minor. The Act expressly identifies the situation as sexual grooming.
According to the Children’s Authority of Trinidad and Tobago: “Sexual grooming occurs when an adult befriends a child by building a close relationship in order to gain the child’s trust, with the intention of later engaging the child in sexual activity.”
Screenshots of the conversation between the alleged offender and the schoolboy were sent to Guardian Media.
The schoolboy, according to a close friend, shrugged off the inappropriate text messages as a joke but admitted it made him feel uncomfortable, which prompted him to send screenshots of the conversation to his friends.
However, he has been in good spirits and was not troubled by the public revelation.
The boy’s mother was reportedly infuriated after her son showed her the messages and went to the police with the information.
One Tobago psychologist, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said paedophiles usually seek out positions of trust “so that they can lure victims.”
“As youngsters are taught to trust adults, especially in high positions, the youngsters become easy prey and the perpetrators know that,” the psychologist said.
Another psychologist said, “In a small island society secrets of a sexual nature are held close to people’s cheSt”
“We have the history of many cases of incest going unreported because people do not want to hurt entire families and therein lies the problem.”
She said in these circumstances the victim as well as the perpetrator needs help.
“Often times the perpetrator was once a victim,” she said.
Contacted for comment Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles said he will comment after getting the facts.
The Children’s Authority stated previously that sexual grooming occurs when an adult befriends a child by building a close relationship in order to gain the child’s trust, with the intention of later engaging the child in sexual activity.
According to the Children Act, 2012, the person who commits such an offence is liable “to a fine of fifty thousand dollars and to imprisonment for ten years or on conviction on indictment, to a fine of one hundred thousand dollars and to imprisonment for twenty years.
Anyone with information can report the matter to the Children Authority’s hotlines at 996 or 800-2014 or the nearest police station. (T&T Guardian)