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Father fights for custody

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Father fights for custody

By Savitri Sookraj

PORT-OF-SPAIN attorney Martin George is seeking to have the courts overturn an interim custody order granted to the mother of an 11-year-old-girl, as the father fights to save his daughter from what he claims is a circle of abuse.

  In fact, the girl related a horror story of years of ill treatment, sexual and physical abuse at the hands of her mother and other guardians in whose custody, she was left on a number of occasions.

  Attorney George is seeking to have the injunction heard in the Port-of-Spain Courts tomorrow. The girl's mother (name withheld) got the order last Saturday, after the father, Roy Joseph, picked her up. She had been Ieft with Joseph's neighbours after the Morvant Police began a search for her last week.

  Joseph contends that his ex-with became a member of a church which practises a brand of religion that forbids children from attending school. And, he says, he was not comfortable with a number of other practices of the church, and that this led to the eventual break-up of his marriage.

  Joan Charles is the attorney for the girl's mother.

A full custody hearing is set for December 1.


                 Tale of Woe

  Joseph recalled that on September10, he went to visit his daughter at the church and he noticed a mark on her hand. When he inquired what it was, the child began relating stories of her abuse at the hands of her guardians.

  The father said he looked at her legs, both arms, back and chest and he saw that her body was crossed and lined, as if she had been whipped. He said he made a report to the police and started looking for the Sangre Grande couple with whom his daughter had been staying.   

  He said they must have got wind of this and decided to drop his daughter at his neighbour's home in Morvant.

  In the presence of reporters, and some of her father's relatives, the girl (name withheld) related her tale of woes at the hands of these adults with whom she was made to stay, since the age of four.

  She said her mother beat her severely. She said she would push her face on a pillow and proceed to deliver the blows on her.  

  She recalled times when her mother denied her breakfast. And when she did get food, it was often not enough.  When she asked for more she said, she would be beaten.

  The girl was born in the US and has dual citizenship. And, she said yesterday, the punishment would take place in New York during those times when her mother took her to live in the US.

 She said on several occasions she would be sent back to Trinidad when her mother feared that neighbours would inform the authorities about the treatment of her daughter.

  Joseph recalled when he was married on January 3, 1986, he and his wife had a happy and successful life. “However, everything went down the drain after my wife joined the church (name withheld) in Morvant.”


         Girl Beaten Regularly

  At first, he said, he attended the church since he believed that “God is good.” But after a few visits, he said, he realised that the doctrines and ideals of the church were not suitable for his family. He said he left and asked his wife to do the same, but she refused.

  He said the church believed that children must not go to school. He said elders in the church would make passes at the female members.

  He recalls that, on one occasion, someone made a pass at his wife and “I went with a piece of iron for that Brother.”

  When his marriage eventually ended, Joseph said, his daughter went to live with her mother, and they travelled to and from the United States. And on other occasions, she would be left with members of the church.

  One couple with whom the girl stayed said they refused to have children because “Christ is coming soon.”

  It is with this couple that she has been staying for the past two years.

   “They used to beat me, especially on my private parts.

Then they would make me bathe naked in front of them,” she said.

 She said she was beaten on a regular basis on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, for no reason.

She said they would make her strip naked and kneel down before beating her with a stick.

 “They said I had an evil in me and they had to beat it out. They blamed me and beat me because they said I was lying and masturbating.”

  She said she had strict rules to follow. If the couple found she had lied to them and if they thought she did so on four occasions, then she would have to fast for four days.

 They never took her with them whenever they went anywhere. Instead they would tie her to a chair and leave her there until they returned. “Mosquitoes and ants would be biting me, but I could not do anything”, she said.

 She said a male member of the church visited the home regularly. “He had a hole in his pants crotch and he would lie on the bed on his back with his arms spread out to make his body look like a cross. Then he would tell me to come and lie on top of him.

 “I used to refuse, but he used to beat me and I had to do it. He would kiss me by my lips as I lay on top of him”, she said.

  Members of this church live a life of material deprivation, according to the girl’s tale of horror.

 The house had no pipe borne water supply. The couple depended on the rain and a well in the area. Telephones and electricity are not allowed. They never had breakfast before 11am.

 Roy Joseph described this church yesterday as a cult.

 The girl said she had seen two other children suffer a similar fate as hers at the church. “At one time, the elders caught this girl lying and they beat her until she fainted,” she said.



Taken from: Trinidad Guardian Newspapers




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