The family of women and girls who were exploited by former Moravian Pastor and convicted sex offender, Rupert Clarke, this afternoon confirmed that the Church has finally reached out to them.
The gesture by the Moravian Church to the clergyman’s victims comes after more than two years.
The Moravian Church in a major move today also issued an apology to the victims.
The church’s response comes one week after Nationwide News aired a special follow-up feature, “Surviving Rupert Clarke.”
The news special revealed that the Moravian Church was yet to reach out to or apologize to the family.
The Pastor’s transgressions received national attention in 2017 after it was reported that he was caught by the Police in a compromising position with one of the younger siblings on a secluded road in his car.
Tauna Thomas has been following the story and files this report:
That’s Head of the Moravian Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, Reverend Phyllis Smith-Seymour speaking with Nationwide last month.
The Reverend’s response triggered outrage from the public.
She was also heavily criticised for revealing to Nationwide in its special follow up that they continued to embrace the convicted sex offender, Clarke, but not the victims.
Following the airing of the special, Reverend Smith Seymour agreed to speak with Nationwide News yesterday.
But, she abruptly cancelled the interview at the last minute.
Instead, she and the church today published a half-page statement in The Gleaner newspaper.
They offered a public apology in the statement.
It begins, “We write with a message that is long overdue.
“The Moravian Church has been rocked to its core by the conduct of a pastor of the church who pleaded guilty to a dastardly act. No one wants to believe the worst about someone who has always seemed to show their best – but silence is never an acceptable response.
“Facing the issue publicly is appropriate, particularly when as a Church you are held in high esteem…This is where we failed you and most regrettably, the victims.
“There are things we could have done differently, given a second opportunity to communicate our response to this tragedy. Unfortunately, we cannot. There is no satisfactory explanation for us not being publicly forthright in condemning it earlier than now. For this, we unreservedly apologize.”
It continues by saying they’ve been in touch with the family and are praying for their physical and spiritual healing.
When Nationwide contacted the family this afternoon, they confirmed that a group from the Moravian Church visited their home on Monday.
They shared that the members sat with them and exchanged contact information.
A promise was also given that they’d be making contact to offer more tangible support.
Meanwhile, in the Moravian Church’s statement, it said it considers the exploitation of the most vulnerable as particularly heinous, and they support the punishment of the guilty to the fullest extent of the law.
The statement goes on to ask for forgiveness from the public, saying they know that their statement is two years late, but that they’ve learnt invaluable lessons.
The statement also notes that this has been a defining moment in the church’s history, and one that will shape their future.
The Moravian Church’s statement, which was signed by Rev. Smith Seymour, also highlights that it is a 265-year-old institution in Jamaica that has seen good and bad times in our country’s history.
Certainly, this is one of them.