February 1, 2017: The latest in a string of sex offense charges against Adventists in Jamaica has hit the headlines. This time a local elder, a volunteer spiritual leader under the pastor, stands accused of having sex with a girl under 16.
The man accused is a member of a congregation in St. Mary, a parish in northeastern Jamaica. Jamaican news site RJR News reported that the Adventist’s arrest on Tuesday, January 31, comes after a girl of 14 made statements to authorities.
The Adventist Church in Jamaica has reacted to the arrest with a statement condemning unlawful sexual abuse of minors.
While an investigation into this latest case takes place, Everett Brown, president of the Adventist Church’s Jamaican Union Conference, called for church workers and members to uphold high standards of conduct. In addition, he called for cooperation with authorities in bringing offenders to justice.
The Adventist Church in Jamaica has frequently been in local news headlines in stories about child abuse.
In March 2016, the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper ran a story in which Brown said he had called for both pastors and members to change the tendency to not report crime within the church, especially crime against children.
“We have told our pastors that, listen, the time for hiding is over – you have a legal responsibility to do this,” said Brown.