CHILDREN’S AUTHORITY Chairman Hanif Benjamin has said society as a whole failed Mukeisha Maynard, two days after she was fatally beaten by her father, Michael Maynard.
Commenting on the blame game between police, relatives of the slain girl and villagers at Kelly Village over who should have sought to remove the child from the abusive environment, Benjamin said everyone has a part to play in protecting children.
“Once there is a death that is not natural, people try to assign blame.
"But we all need to take stock of what occurred, and as a society, look at how we are treating with children,” Benjamin said. “Whatever the circumstances might have been, the fact remains that we have two people that are dead.”
Benjamin said people know the most vulnerable members of society and everyone needed to take stock of what they can do to strengthen families and communities. He said while the police have a duty to protect and serve, they cannot be everywhere at once.
'Everyone has a part to play'
“I am looking at all of society. We have to come up with answers, and not point at any one body.
“We have to create a system where asking for help is not a taboo. People need to feel comfortable with asking for help and not feel as though they have to hide to do it. As a result, when someone dies we have a ‘shoulda, woulda, coulda’ situation, when it is really ‘too late shall be the cry.’ Everyone has a part to play. Even when you buy a pizza, the pizza box that you discard has an important part in delivering it.
"All of us need to understand our roles, and (in Mukeisha’s case) society failed.”
Benjamin said the Children’s Authority has been trying its best to bridge the gaps between agencies mandated to protect society and do preventative work.
“But our jobs come in when the child is already scarred,” Benjamin said. “It is critical for all of us as a society to do preventative work. We all need to step up. That includes our church system.”
Benjamin said the Children’s Authority is now investigating whether it received a report, what happened to the report and if none was sent, why not. He added that its emergency response team was deployed to assess the current environment in which Maynard’s brother is living.
Eight-year-old Maynard was beaten with a cutlass by her father after wetting her bed early last Sunday morning.
Hours later she was found dead. The father then cleaned and dressed the child and laid her body on a bed in their Kelly Village home.
He then took his own life.
Fingers being pointed
Those around her are now casting blame.
Members of Michael Maynard's family, speaking at the Forensic Science Centre on Tuesday blamed the child's mother, Maysonia Thomas. They said they tried to help her get her two children by Maynard out of their abusive father.
Police responded to reports that villagers knew of the abuse and claims that reports were made to the police and they did nothing. The Commissioner of Police said in a release that police investigated all the reports made against Maynard. The police pointed a finger at villagers saying they knew what was happening but said nothing.
The mother, claiming on Monday that she was afraid of Maynard, blamed his abusive ways.
At Forensics on Tuesday, relatives of Michael Maynard did not deny he was abusive. They said they tried time and again to reunite Thomas with her two children, but she never came forward.
They said Maynard took both eight-year-old Mukeisha and her ten-year-old brother and refused to return them.
“A week after they came, he started beating her,” the relative said. “When I found out about the first incident, we called the police. They said because there wasn’t a female officer present, they could not examine the child. But she had a bruise on her back.”
She said police spoke to Maynard and told him to let the children stay with his mother, Sandra, but as soon as the police left, he took them to his house in Boysie Trace. There Mukeisha endured almost a year of abuse.
A relative said, “I was asking the mother to come because what we were advised is because he was the father, the mother was the only one who could give custody over to my mother (the child's paternal grandmother). I tried calling from April. The last call I made was in November last year. Many times I spent up until 1 am in the station waiting for her to come so we could get the children.
"She said she was afraid of him. Fine. Police offered to escort her to get the children, but she never came.”
CoP: Police are not mind readers
In a release sent to the media via the CoP’s office, the police also distanced themselves, saying they had checked with the Child Protection Unit, and contrary to what the child's mother had said, no reports were made at the Morvant or the Chaguanas police stations.
However, they said there were three reports against Maynard, two concerning abuse and one report of rape.
“On September 10th, 2011, he was arrested and charged him with assaulting Maysonia Thomas, and his eight-month-old daughter. That matter remained pending for years,” Cop Gary Griffith said in the release. “On April 6th, 2019, a report was made about threats and child neglect.
"This was made by Celestine Oliver, the sister of Michael Maynard. WPC Atkinson of the CPU spoke to Steven Maynard (uncle) and Rashida Munroe. At the time, two children were living with their grandmother at Kelly Village, Caroni.
"The children denied that they were beaten and there were no marks of violence on the bodies.”
In the release, the CoP said although there were only two reports of abuse, everyone in the village allegedly knew of incidents of abuse but did nothing.
“It seems that there are people who knew that something was happening and they failed to step forward.
"The CoP says that the TTPS are not mind readers. To the people who knew what was happening and failed to step forward, you were not helping the victim. It is too late (now).”
Griffith reminded the public that "when they see something, they must say something, and not wait until someone is killed.”
An autopsy was done on the little girl but results are still pending. Sources told Newsday tissue samples were taken from the child’s throat, to see if she was made to swallow anything.
Maynard's mother said her funeral will be next Tuesday at Simpson’s Funeral Home on the Eastern Main Road, at 2 pm.