A High Court judge and attorneys for a 14-year-old boy and his mother, the Children’s Authority and the State are expected to visit the St Ann’s Psychiatric Hospital next week for a first hand look at conditions at the hospital.
Justice Avason Quinlan-Williams made the order in the San Fernando High Court on Monday in a lawsuit filed by the child’s mother who has alleged her son has been subjected to sexual and physical abuse at one of this country’s children’s homes.
The child’s mother has asked the court to immediately place her son in the care of the Children’s Authority. The boy was sent to the St Ann’s Hospital “temporarily” in October 2016 where he has been since.
In making the order for the site visit, Quinlan-Williams questioned how was the child removed from the St Michael’s Home for Boys by order of a Siparia magistrate in 2012 to the St Ann’s Hospital and kept there for a year without a court order or any intervention by the State.
According to the lawsuit filed on the child’s behalf by his mother, while at the St Michael’s Home, he was the victim of constant sexual harassment and abuse by both staff and residents who would force him to perform sexual favours. He was nine when he was first sent to the St Michael’s Home. While there, the mother said, he developed abnormal obesity and speech disorders.
Two years later, he was diagnosed by Dr Jacqueline Sharpe with, “Prader-Willi Syndrome”, and that his weight and speech challenges were as a result of this genetic condition. His mother said he was subjected to intense bullying and abuse from residents and staff at the Home. He was also humiliated for being obese and speaking “funny”.
Initially arrangements were put in place for the child to receive speech therapy and other medical treatment on the advice of Sharpe.
In late 2014, when the management of the Home was changed, the child stopped receiving medical treatment and associated therapy.
The child’s mother made several attempts to intervene and he was referred for medical treatment and while officials at St Michael’s were unwilling to say much, they did confirm that the child’s physical and sexual abuse was “horrific.” An official request was made to send the child to the St Ann’s Hospital to undergo psychiatric evaluation.
This was done in October 2016, as a “temporary” measure. The matter has been adjourned to November 20 in the San Fernando High Court. The child and his mother are represented by attorneys Anand Ramlogan SC leading Jayanti Lutchmedial, Ganesh Saroop and Alvin Pariagsingh.
State attorneys Tinuke Gibbons-Glenn and Rachael Theophilous, Dianne Katwaroo appear for the Attorney General and attorneys Sharlene Jaggernauth, Denell Singh instructed by Renuka Rambajan represent the Children’s Authority.