Commissioner of Police Derek Byrne says online reports of a rape of a boy in Bodden Town are incorrect, describing them as “misinformation” that has been causing alarm and tension in the district.
Byrne called a press briefing on Saturday to counter the reports, stating that there was no evidence that a physical or sexual assault had taken place and no criminal complaint had been filed.
“It’s causing an awful lot of tension in the community, particularly in Bodden Town,” he said. “The most striking feature for me at the minute is the stress that is being caused to the family at the centre of this information. It has become quite serious for them.”
He said the mother and child, who are at a hospital in Miami, were reluctant to return to Cayman because of the social media reports that were circulating. Two RCIPS officers travelled to the US to speak with them last week and to get information from the hospital.
Asked if the boy had made any allegations regarding an assault, the commissioner said, “Quite the opposite. There is absolutely no information, no indication, nothing that would indicate that anything of a sexual or physical assault took place.”
He added, “It is purely a child safeguarding, a child protection issue. That’s what it is at the moment. It’s not a criminal investigation, and that’s what needs to be corrected.”
He acknowledged that the Cayman Islands Hospital had made a referral regarding the boy to the Department of Children and Family Services, which then contacted the Family Support Unit within the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH). The Family Support Unit is an investigative unit that handles child protection cases. The child was then referred for assistance overseas.
The commissioner insisted the referral was not in relation to a physical or sexual assault, but said he was unable to provide further information on why the referral was made due to medical and family confidentiality.
Inspector Kevin Ashworth, head of the Family Support Unit, sought to clarify the difference between a “referral” and a report of an incident, saying “A referral … is actually a request for service …. In this instance, a referral was made by the [Cayman Islands] Hospital under the mandated reporting process under the Children Law … and that was acted upon as a safeguarding matter, not as a criminal issue.”
He said the MASH unit was involved in the case two weeks before it began circulating on social media.
Commissioner Byrne said police had sent officers to Miami to speak with the mother and son because of the momentum that had built up around the online reports that had “propelled complete misinformation of a very graphic nature”.
He also denied a report online that stated that Children’s Hospital in Miami had referred the case to police there. “That was absolutely incorrect as well,” he said. “We obviously engaged with the local police service and no referral was made from the hospital in respect to the child. There was other inquiries made at the hospital to confirm that nothing untoward had happened and they found no evidence that hadn’t been found here.”
Police said a man who had been identified on the Cayman Marl Road website as being involved in the alleged assault had filed a complaint with the RCIPS, which are investigating the matter. Commissioner Bryne said the online reports of the man’s involvement were “incorrect” and had caused the man “great harm and distress”. The matter would be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions, he added.
Asked about another element of the online reports regarding a politician allegedly paying the family to remain quiet, the commissioner said, “My concern is about the mother and child at the centre of this information. There are consequential or ancillary issues relating to people being dragged into it wrongly, information being given in the public domain about hush monies and particular persons being involved, and that is absolutely incorrect.”