Alleged sexual misconduct by a Bishop’s High School (BHS) by a male teacher is being investigated by the Ministries of Social Protection and Education, even as the alleged perpetrator vehemently denied having sexual relations with the females while they were students or below the age of consent.
Business teacher at Bishops’ High School, Coene Blaine Jackson, however, admitted that intimate relations he has had with two ex-students after they had finished secondary school was inappropriate and he has since taken leave of absence of from work to allow investigations to continue. One of them, he confirmed, he had taken to Colombia, Aruba, New York and Mexico.
“I understand the concern. On a moral ground, yes, it doesn’t look good on me but I admit and that is one of the reasons I am contemplating. I don’t think I can carry on as a teacher at Bishops’ High School for that reason. I have been very discreet about because of the perception and rightfully so.
However, you can’t stop people from falling in love. You can’t stop people from interacting. I have a very strong relationship with this young lady,” he said. While the teacher said the woman with whom he now has a relationship is 21 years old, his Attorney-at-Law, Jerome Khan interjected and prevented his client from saying how long they have been together.
He said at the time he had struck up the two relationships with former Bishops’ High School students they were above the age of consent and were “never under my instruction at the time”.
Director of the Ministry of Social Protection’s Child Protection Agency, Ann Greene told Demerara Waves Online News that the allegations were being addressed. “It has been brought to our attention and we are actively involved in a preliminary investigation,” she said. Greene said her department on Wednesday spoke with Chief Education Officer, Marcel Hutson.
Jackson accused Cultural Policy Adviser at the Ministry of Social Cohesion, Ruel Johnson of leveling the baseless and damaging accusations against him. Jackson said Johnson was now in a relationship with one of his ex students. “Mr. Johnson is using information that came to his disposal through a relationship which he is involved in with a person I have known to paint a picture of me that is far removed from the person I am, feeding a media frenzy,” he said.
The teacher said Johnson has threatened to “destroy me publicly” and have him removed from the teaching profession if he continued to maintain contact with a person he now enjoys a relationship. Jackson said he has since severed all communication with the female. “I have respect for her personal space. I feel sorry that she has been dragged into Mr. Johnson’s unhinged campaign,” he said.
Johnson has since reacted, insisting that the teacher has had a trail of alleged sexual predatory behaviour on his female students. The Cultural Policy Advisory opted not to address Jackson’s claim that a former student, with whom that government official now has a relationship, is at the centre of the controversy. “I also can’t dignify Mr. Jackson’s statement that he was threatened over contact with a young woman except to say that since this issue has started, multiple young women have in fact come out to say publicly that he has sexually propositioned them while they were his students at various institutions including Guyana Technical Institute, the Business School, School of the Nations, Georgetown Technical Institute, Leonora Technical Institute, and Mae’s,” Johnson said.
Johnson said he has rejected overtures by Khan for the issue to be dropped if Jackson resigns, and said he offered no assurance that the educator would not be charged under the Sexual Offences Act.
The teacher’s Attorney-at-Law, Jerome Khan said he and his legal team have evidence showing exchanges between Jackson and Johnson. “We are restrained and handcuffed in what we can say because we respect the administrative process that is taking place and we don’t want to influence that process,” Khan said.
Jackson, who has taught at several private and public secondary schools in the city- the longest being 11 years at Bishops’ High School, said the saga has damaged his teaching career permanently.
He said teacher-student relationships have over the years transitioned to platonic relationships with many students, some of whom live overseas.
Meanwhile, several persons staged a picketing demonstration outside Bishops’ High School, calling for the removal of Head Mistress Winifred Ellis for her alleged utterances to students at an assembly, effectively blaming the girls for exposing themselves to sexual offences.
Akola Thompson, speaking with Demerara Waves Online News from the picket lines, said she wanted Ellis removed and urged that the rules must not be used rigidly. “Due process is definitely important, but I also think we need to stop using due process as an excuse to not go after abusers,” she said, adding that numerous girls were allegedly groomed by the teacher. ”
Pastor Joseph, who is the father of a 10-month old daughter, said he was so enraged by the allegations that were someone to commit such an act against his child, he would resort to his military training as a former member of the Guyana Defence Force Special Forces. “If had gotten word that something like this had happened to my daughter, it won’t be nice. I think, as a society, we have been silent on these things and for the HM to come out and try to belittle the females of the school and try to shame them, it’s actually ridiculous.
“We can’t just stand idly as men and just allow someone to take matters into their own hands and before that happens, I am out here holding a placard because if it was my daughter I would have taken matters into my own hands even though I am a pastor because my first responsibility is to protect my family,” Adams said.
He hoped that the Chief Education Officer, who is also a pastor, would launch an investigation immediately into he matter including the alleged shielding by the Headmistress.
Former student of Bishops’ High School, Don Singh added that anyone committing such acts against his daughter would be harmed and such a person should “rot in jail”. “This victim-blaming that we are carrying on with in a rape-culture society has got to stop- the girl slack, the girl loose, she push up she self: Stop it,” he said.