Children’s Home will sue for defamation | Additional News
The Margaret Kistow Children’s Home says it has sought a legal opinion regarding the findings of the Judith Jones Committee report on child abuse.
Home officials said a libel suit would be filed as they called the statements published in the report libelous and “incendiary untruths”.
The report, titled “The Protection of Children in Community Residences and Child Support Centers in Trinidad and Tobago,” was tabled in parliament last Friday. It detailed findings of physical and sexual abuse of children, among other problems in children’s homes, rehabilitation centers and other institutions that provide care for children.
Among the report’s findings regarding the home, several boys were living in the private residence of a home manager, hiring an employee who had previously been the subject of sexual abuse allegations, and sending of children spending weekends with people. who are not their legal guardians.
The report recommended that the home be immediately shut down and investigated.
The Sunday Express has made several attempts to contact the home over the past week, by phone and email, for a response to the findings published in the report.
Several attempts had been made to contact the home via the email address and phone number listed on its Facebook page.
Director Xerxes Seales invited this reporter to visit the house on Thursday to conduct an interview with Kistow. This was later overturned, as Seales said the house had received legal advice, advising that questions be sent in writing to minimize the possibility of being misquoted.
Questions were sent, asking the home to respond to the specific findings of the report.
Seales acknowledged receipt and assured that Kistow was reviewing the questions and would respond “as soon as possible.”
No responses to questions were received.
In other telephone exchanges with Seales, he expressed concern about media reports regarding the Judith Jones committee report and said the home had not been given the opportunity to respond.
He said his lawyers had advised the home not to give detailed statements to the media because they could be misinterpreted. Seales said the house had nothing to hide and was following the advice of its legal team.
He said Kistow intended to take legal action, but did not specify against whom.
The Judith Jones committee report has been the subject of much discussion over the past week. Gender and Children’s Minister Ayanna Webster-Roy told the Express last week that the home continued to operate despite the recommendation that it be closed immediately, as “there is a process in place to remove licenses from residences communities by the CATT (Children’s Authority).
The house, however, is unlicensed, as noted in the Judith Jones committee report.
Webster-Roy announced last week the creation of a task force to develop a plan to implement the recommendations contained in the Judith Jones committee report.
Webster-Roy told this reporter that all of the recommendations made in the report are being reviewed by the task force and will be included in the work plan which will be finalized and submitted to Cabinet in six weeks.
“Where there are recommendations that the task force believes needs to be expedited, an appropriate recommendation will be made to do so,” she said.