Two arrested for alleged sexual abuse of minors

Two arrested for alleged  sexual abuse of minors

PHILIPSBURG--Suspended non-teaching staff member at one of the Hillside Christian Schools J.D.W. and her neighbour B.E.H.S. were arrested early Wednesday morning on suspicion of having sexually abused an undisclosed number of children over the past decade, and for making and sharing child pornography.

  The investigation – which has been dubbed “Pandora” – started after several persons filed complaints against the primary school employee W. and her neighbour S.

  A pupil had raised the alarm with the school’s student care coordinator in late March, according to a letter to parents from Foundation for Protestant Christian Education on Friday, March 26. The foundation said it had moved immediately to suspend W. after the allegations came to light.

  According to the Prosecutor’s Office, W. targeted her victims at school, with the alleged abuse usually taking place when the victims later attended after-school tutoring at the suspect’s home.

  “The abuse of the minors took place at the suspects’ homes over prolonged periods of time, starting from around 2010. The time span of the abuse differs based on each victim’s contact with the arrestees. In the case of one victim, the abuse occurred on the premises of an elementary school. The abuse of another victim took place in 2019 and during the 2020 lockdown when the child was at tutoring classes at the home of one of the arrestees,” said the Prosecutor’s Office in a press release on Wednesday.

  Besides the sexual abuse allegations, one complainant reported that W. took indecent photographs of at least one victim and shared them with co-suspect S.

  All of the victims in this case are younger than 13 years old, or were younger than 13 at the time they were abused, said the Prosecutor’s Office.

  Authorities searched the suspects’ homes in conjunction with Wednesday’s arrest. Data carriers were confiscated from both homes. A firearm and an undisclosed amount of marijuana were found in only one house.

  “Cases involving the sexual abuse of minors are considered heinous by [the Prosecutor’s Office – Ed.] OM SXM and [the St. Maarten Police Force] KPSM, as they target the most vulnerable in the community – children.

  “OM SXM and KPSM are cognisant that cases like these are very emotional ones and [we] urge parents and guardians not to let emotions guide [their] actions. The police and OM SXM are working diligently on tackling such cases for the safety of the community and, in particular, our children.

  “OM SXM and KPSM encourage everyone in the community to be mindful about the welfare of all children and to report any and all instances of sexual abuse, whether against minors or adults,” it was stated in the press release.

  To report sexual abuse, persons can contact police at tel. 1-721-542-2222 ext. 501.