Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 21st 2014 Contents A5
Monday, July 21, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
CASANDRA THOMPSON -- FORBES
Tobago has recorded its third
murder in ten days following the
death of another taxi driver.
Police said 60-year-old Curtis
James, of James Estate, Concordia,
was found dead in one of the bed-
rooms of his home by his nine-year
old granddaughter shortly after 5
pm on Saturday.
They said his Toyota Noah was
found abandoned and burnt in the
Orange Hill area by a passerby who
contacted the police.
A police source said James might
have been strangled as there were
marks of violence around his neck.
The investigators believe robbery
could have been the motive because
the victim s house was ransacked
and cash and valuables stolen.
James was last seen alive on Friday
This is the second taxi driver to
be killed in Tobago in the last ten
days. The first was 43- year old
Dain Kent of Speyside. He was
found with a gunshot wound to the
head in the Mt Grace area. His Toy-
ota Noah vehicle was also discovered
abandoned and burnt a short dis-
tance from where his body was
James s relatives they were
shocked by the incident as Curtis
was a pleasant and hardworking
individual. They said there have
been a spate of housebreaking inci-
dents in the area over the past
This brings Tobago s murder toll
to five for 2014. The Tobago Homi-
cide Bureau is continuing investi-
The St Michael s School
for Boys, Diego Martin, is a
"house of horrors" for those
seeking sanctuary, confirmed
one of the teenagers subject-
ed to physical and sexual
abuse at the facility.
Asking for his name not to
be used, the teenager, who is
now 19, said it was time for
the public to know what was
really happening behind the
six-foot-high steel fence that
surrounds the compound.
"That is not a suitable home
for children. It s like a little
prison for teenagers, because
they don t teach you any-
thing," he said, adding, "They
don t give the children coun-
selling. Most of them, they
pull them out of school and
send them to train."
In an interview at the T&T
Guardian office, he said during
his year-long stay he was
deprived of a secondary school
education, sexually abused by
a female staff member, beaten
by a male staff member,
cursed and threatened, wit-
nessed staff members using
marijuana, and denied the
chance to learn a trade by
other members of staff, who
deemed him a trouble-maker.
He spoke after Attorney
General Anand Ramlogan
revealed the findings of a
report on the death of 14-
year-old Brandon Hargreaves
at the home in April. The
report contained similar alle-
gations, and the AG said he
had written to the Director of
Public Prosecutions and the
acting Commissioner of Police
asking for an investigation.
Now about to become a
father himself, the teenager
who has never known a
father s love, said, "I have a
baby coming, and I never want
my child to go through what
"I am willing to talk now
about everything that has
happened because this is for
all those children who suffered
like me, and for those who are
He became withdrawn,
sullen and aggressive during
his time at the school, the
teenager said, but was now
prepared to deal with the
authorities and any fall-out
from making the information
Sent to the school at 15 after
his father took him before the
court and deemed him
"beyond control," he said, "It
wasn t a nice situation when
I was there."
The teenager who is orig-
inally from Maraval and who
now lives in Port-of-Spain,
was left motherless following
her death when he was four
Recalling the beating he
received on his first day at the
school, the teenager said he
was cursed and verbally
abused by an official, who later
beat him with a wooden stick.
He said certain supervisors
would threaten the boys, say-
ing if they spoke out about
the situation, marijuana would
be "found" on them and they
would be sent back to the
court for breaching regula-
Referring to instances of
disrespect by the staff who
would taunt them about their
parents "not wanting them,"
the teenager said he was beat-
en by a supervisor who kept
demanding marijuana from
Advised by a guidance
counsellor not to retaliate, he
said the threat of being sent
to the Youth Training Centre
worked to keep him in line
many times. After several
court appearances, he was
given little relief after he com-
plained to the magistrate about
the conditions he was being
The teen was unable to
complete his education after
skipping Forms Two and Four,
and said it was a constant
struggle, as he was often
pulled out and sent back
whenever the authorities
Admitting that he has not
yet told his girlfriend the
details of his time at the
school, the teenager said, "I m
not really ready to speak to
her, but I need to do it."
Asked if he kept in contact
with his father, the teenager
said, "My father is in a wheel-
chair now, and although I see
him sometimes, we aren t
As for his older siblings---
one brother and two
sisters---he has no interaction
St Michael's School resident tells of
sexual and physical abuse...
'House of horrors'
Referring to a male senior official who "normally took
stuff from the boys" the teenager said the rules were
ignored when it came to certain boys. The boys are not
allowed to have more than $10 in their possession, nor
cell phones, laptops or any other gadgets.
But, he said, "There was one student who was like the
king in St Michael's. He had money, cell phones, a laptop,
and he could go and come when he wanted."
He was hesitant to talk about the sexual abuse at the
school, but admitted, "I was in that too. At the time, I was
young and didn't really know what was going on."
He was encouraged to approach the 27-year-old female
staffer who had "broken up" with another boy at the
facility, the teenager said.
"I went and told her I liked her."
That admission led to the staff member and the
teenager having sex in one of the dormitories, which
became a regular occurrence. He also admitted going to
hotels in Port-of-Spain and Diego Martin with her.
Asked if he had been given money in exchange, he
replied, "Anything I asked for, she used to give me it.
Money, cell phone, anything."
He couldn't estimate how many other boys might have
been sexually abused during his time, but said, "Since I
was there, with staff taking children to hotels, I only knew
about two people. Me and another guy."
He believed that other staff members knew of the
situation, he said, and during one such rendezvous, he
contacted a friend of his at the school.
"I called my friend and told him I'm with her in the hotel,
so that was how the rumour spread and everyone got to
Even in the face of such allegations, the female staffer
was not disciplined, suspended or fired.
Referring to the male senior official whose office and
car he was often made to clean out, the teenager said, "I
personally saw him smoking weed on the balcony with a
lot of children passing up and down. Even in his drawer,
he used to have weed and cell phones."
Having seen marijuana in the official's car when he was
made to clean it, the boy said his cell phone was later
returned by the same official.
The teenager's employer, a Port-of-Spain businessman,
accompanied him to the interview. The teenager, now a
tradesman, said his employer had saved his life by giving
him a job and proved to be a positive male role model for
The businessman appealed to the authorities for
counselling for the abused teenager, and said the situation
at the school cannot be allowed to continue. He pleaded
with the authorities to stop the cycle of abuse.
"Government trusts these people with resources and
funding to see about these children and it is not happening.
If there are so much allegations, then investigate," he said.
Another taxi driver murdered in Tobago
MISBEHAVIOUR BY STAFF
'STOP THE ABUSE'
A former resident of the St Michael's Home for Boys in Diego Martin recounts incidents of
abuse during his stay at the facility. PHOTO: MICHEAL BRUCE
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