Minister: Sports groups must report suspected child abuse

It is incumbent on sports associations to report suspected child abuse, Sports Minister Osbourne Bodden said during a meeting of the Legislative Assembly’s Finance Committee on Wednesday.

Osbourne Bodden
Osbourne Bodden

West Bay MLA Bernie Bush brought up the issue, asking Mr. Bodden whether the Ministry of Sports has a policy “on protecting children from pedophiles.”

Mr. Bush said individuals previously suspected of child abuse should not be allowed to work with children in sporting organizations, and suggested the ministry should have a policy to help sporting organizations protect children, since these organizations are frequently run by volunteers who may not have the expertise to handle such situations.

“The answer to that lies under our child protective services, which is in the Department of Children and Family Services under the Children Law. If there are any accusations of such activities, those are dealt with through that agency,” Mr. Bodden said.

“It is incumbent upon [associations] to ensure that any such matters are reported to DCFS and the police. It’s as simple as that,” he said.

The Children Law requires any person who “by virtue of his employment or occupation, paid or unpaid, has a responsibility to discharge a duty of care towards a child” must report any cases of suspected child abuse.

“If a person has a reasonable suspicion that a child has been or is being abused or neglected; and the suspicion is formed in the course of the person’s work, that person shall notify the department of the suspicion as soon as practicable after he forms the suspicion,” the law states.

Those who do not follow the law are liable to a fine of $5,000 or a one-year prison term, or both.

Mr. Bodden said he knew what Mr. Bush was “alluding to,” noting that an incident occurred recently and an “accusation [was] made of such instances.”

He did not elaborate.

In February, police began investigating a 36-year-old man from Bodden Town related to allegations of an indecent assault on an underage girl. The suspect, who fled the Cayman Islands, was the young woman’s coach.

In 2014, a sports coach for a girls club team, who admitted having sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old team member, was sentenced to four years and eight months in prison.