The camp leader who contacted accused Rico Renaldo Edwards to work as a first-aider at a children’s camp at a St Philip school seven years ago says, “I felt like I failed.”
Paul Persaud, who currently lives in the United States, was giving evidence today via Zoom in Edwards’ trial which continued in the No. 5 Supreme Court.
Edwards, of Sargeant’s Park, Foul Bay, St Philip is accused of indecently assaulting an 11-year-old boy, by touching his private parts on May 24, 2015 while at a Cub Scouts camp.
Persaud said after he was informed by the camp’s director that the first responder was unable to make it, he contacted another person with whom he had worked the week prior at his own camp. However that first-aider was not available and recommended Edwards who had assisted him at that camp.
Persaud recalled that Edwards agreed to assist. After picking Edwards up from his location they arrived at the campsite around 1:30 a.m. the Saturday while most of those in attendance were was asleep.
Edwards was introduced to the director, assigned his duties and showed the space where he would be working which was also to double as his sleeping quarters. This was separate from the boys’ sleeping quarters.
Later that day, Persaud said, “I noticed that Mr Edwards was, in my opinion, a little bit too friendly with a group of the boys. He was a bit overreaching, volunteering to do stuff he is not assigned to – offering to supervise the boys, offering to go to the shower quarters with them, having unassigned activities, little engagements that is not part of the camp or part of his responsibilities.”
He said he went to the boys’ quarters that night around 9:30 following a brief meeting with other leaders.
“When I got there I saw Mr Edwards in the room with them and they were all kneeling with their hands up. So I asked what was going on and what he was doing there and he was like he is ‘disciplining them because they were having a pillow fight’.
“I spoke to him and said alright I am going to take over. You can make your way down to your area. He [Edwards] went and he sat at the door of the classroom. . . . It was lights out. I was in there with them right up until I must have fallen asleep.
“The first responders are not allowed in the sleeping quarters with the boys except the leader who is assigned to that group which would have been just myself. He was still sitting at the doorway while I was getting the boys settled,” he said, adding that up until 1:30 a.m. the accused was still there but was now “lying in the doorway flat on the floor”.
Persaud said he later woke up to the sound of sobbing from one of the boys.
“I jumped up and I looked around and saw the boy sitting on his sleeping bag and he was crying,” said Persaud who became emotional.
“Sorry, I felt like I failed,” said the camp leader as he took a moment to compose himself before answering the questions posed by Principal Crown Counsel Krystal Delaney who is prosecuting the case.
He explained that he went over to the child and asked what had happened.
“He started crying some more . . . .He hesitated a bit and crying more and he said to me that the first-aider interfered with him.”
“I said ‘when you say the first-aider interfered with you, are you referring to . . .’ and I point to Mr Edwards, ‘are you referring to Mr Edwards’, and he said ‘yes’.
“He told me that Mr Edwards was playing with his privates and jerking him off and playing with his balls – in his words and pulling at his hands for him to do the same to him.”
Persaud added that Edwards was awake and still on the floor when the child told him what had happened.
“He didn’t say anything then. But I said to him, ‘what are you still doing here? Leave! He still laid there.”
The witness said he took the child out of the room, informed security and the director of the situation, then went and got Edwards. The boy repeated in everyone’s presence what had happened.
“Mr Edwards denied it and said, ‘If it happened it must have happened in my sleep’.”
Under cross examination by defense attorney Kevin Miller, the camp leader admitted that while he was in the room he did not witness what is alleged to have happened.