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Hampton School Principal says sorry again, this time to the nation

The Principal of Hampton School in St Elizabeth, Heather Murray, has issued a broad apology to the nation for her actions at the bail hearing of Moravian pastor Rupert Clarke last Wednesday.

Clarke appeared before the St Elizabeth Parish Court on a charge of having sex with a minor.

In her statement dated January 10, but released on Wednesday, Murray said she got caught up in the emotional trauma of the embarrassment and pain which the wife of the accused man, who is her lifelong friend, was experiencing as a result of the development, and in that circumstance, failed to realise that her presence at or near the courthouse could be interpreted as taking the side of her friend’s husband, with no regard for the alleged victim.

She also apologised for having taken steps which amounted to interference with the work of the media in their bid to cover the bail hearing.

 

Below is the full text of Mrs. Murray’s apology:

“The past few days have been among the most difficult periods of my life.

“I attended the in-camera arraignment of Rupert Clarke at the special request of Mrs Yvonne Clarke, my sister and friend, who relied on me for total support during a period of intense physical and emotional distress.

“This state of personal turmoil rendered her incapable of being present at the Black River Courthouse while the Resident Magistrate was considering an application for bail.

"On a personal level, I had become so immersed in the emotional trauma of the hurt and embarrassment which the wife of the accused was experiencing, that I failed to realise that my presence in the precincts of the Court could possibly be misconstrued as taking the side of her husband, rather than the (alleged) victim.

“In my sisterly embrace and response of loyalty to her, I failed to take into account that my being there could expose my office or the institution I head to any hint of controversy or cloud of misunderstanding.

“At the start of the new school term yesterday (Monday) morning, I apologised to my ladies (students), who greeted me with love and understanding. Now that I have also apologised to the Munro and Dickenson Trust, as well as the Hampton School Board, I hereby offer a fulsome apology to the education community and Jamaica for my presence and actions in Black River, which have been misinterpreted as support for the individual accused of rape and molestation of a 15-year-old girl.

“The very thought that this might have been conveyed, grieves me deeply. It would contradict everything I have stood for over my lifetime as a teacher, principal, mother, wife and woman.

“In this regard, my record of protecting all those under my care can withstand the most exacting scrutiny. There are countless teachers, pupils, parents and workers in the field who can all attest to my resolute and consistent stand against any form of sexual abuse or exploitation.

“I also accept that it was imprudent and inappropriate for me to take any steps in the precincts of the courthouse, irrespective of the legal stipulations, which could interfere with the rights of the free press, or impede the work of media practitioners in the pursuit of (their) duty.

“Finally, I pledge that I will continue to faithfully serve and protect the children under my care as I have always done throughout my 40 years of service to the education system of Jamaica.”

Heather Murray (Mrs)

January 10, 2017

 

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