Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Meting Out Justice In Jersey

It has been an interesting few weeks in the island of Jersey - specifically relating to Claude Donnelly and Michael Aubin.

It has been several long, investigative years into the widespread child abuse scandal in Jersey with Haut de la Garenne children’s home being the most recognized name at the center of the scandal.

Many – in and outside the island - are of the opinion given the judicial system in Jersey and the rumors and allegations swirling of many prominent figures about having been involved with or plainly covering-up the abuse for decades, justice for the alleged victims may never be achieved.

Last week, 69-year-old Claude Donnelly was found guilty of 15 counts of indecent assault, rape, and procuring an act of gross indecency. All of the charges relate to a woman who told the court Donnelly began abusing her when she was eight.

Donnelly admitted to indecently assaulting the woman twice when she was 13 or 14, but denies raping her on four occasions, indecently assaulting her nine times and causing her to commit an act of gross indecency on him.

As we so often hear from the defense the victim gets portrayed as the guilty party. Advocate Baker told the jury they would hear evidence from a woman who would describe events that had happened to her as a child. ‘It is that immature child and her thoughts and behavior you will need to consider,’ he said.

At an earlier trial Donnelly was found guilty of rape and indecent assault of another, then teenage girl. When interviewed by police he said he knew one day they would question him over it.

Donnelly’s crimes are not connected to the Haut de la Garenne investigation, but the larger child abuse investigation in Jersey.

Donnelly will be formally sentenced on August 21.

Two days ago 46-year-old Michael Aubin, who has been in custody since May of 2008 for abusing 2 young boys at Haut de la Garenne in the late1970s, was spared additional jail time and placed on two years probation.

Aubin himself claims to have been sexually abused at the children’s home by a staff member known as the “bogeyman.”

In issuing the sentence of probation, Commissioner Clyde-Smith said there was an element of "cruelty" in the circumstances of the case.

"The defendant was taken in to care at three years old. The state was in loco parentis," he said.

"He became what he became while in the care of the state and now the state comes after him to prosecute him for what he did when he was in its care when he was 14 - a disturbed and brutalised 14-year-old."

Which leads me to ask who is the “bogeyman”, why are we not hearing anything regarding an investigation into his identity and does this not call into question the police and government calling the Haut de la Garenne investigation an expensive investigation that proved nothing? Ya can’t have it both ways!

Since the abuse scandal investigation began - 40 suspects have been named by police - of that number, one suspect’s file was returned to police for further investigation, a few were dropped for what the Attorney General calls a lack of evidence and the rest are apparently in political/judicial limbo.

Call me cynical, but my gut feeling is the powers that be in Jersey have offered up Donnelly and Aubin as the sacrificial scapegoats in hopes this all just goes away – the Jersey way.

The perpetrators of abuse and those responsible for the cover-up that held and/or continue to hold high positions within the government and society may sleep easy for a time, but there are more than a few determined individuals that will not let this sleeping dog lie.

JEP - Knew Police Would Question Me
The Independent


Sprocket said...

Thank you donchais, for keeping Jersey and it's government in the spotlight.

ritanita said...

Donchais, I tend to agree with you that this is a scapegoat situation so the government can claim justice has been done.

Then, just sweep the rest under the upper-crust rug.

It's awful.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Donchais, for covering this.

Aubin may well be responsible for horrific acts of abuse, but when I hear that term, "In loco parentis," I am reminded of the greater official responsibility of adults assigned to supervise those in their care at Haut de la Garenne. Who were the specific care givers who failed to prevent on-going and systematic abuse by Albin?

All I see with the Jersey situation is another blatant attempt to avoid exposure of wrongdoing by those who were in charge. No wonder we remain suspicious that most abusers will never be charged - because they would know enough to implicate senior officials.

Still, I remain optomistic that with enough public awareness of what is happening in this case, the truth will out. Someone in charge will eventually have to answer for decades of official tolerance of such cruelty and exploitation. After all, this court has made it clear that Aubin was abused by the so-called Bogeyman, whose identity must be known to many.

As usual, you ask the questions the Jersey officials are most afraid to answer.

- Elle