Orphanage worker jailed for sex abuse loses appeal

By Victoria Raimes
October 7, 2009 / scotsman.com
A CHARITY worker convicted of sexually abusing children in an Albanian orphanage has lost his appeal to be set free.
David Brown, originally from Edinburgh, had hoped his 20-year sentence would be dropped in his latest attempt to prove his innocence.

But it was ruled last Friday that the Evangelical Christian, who ran an orphanage in Tirana, should remain in the Albanian prison he has been detained in since May 2006 because there was no new evidence to quash the conviction.

Brown's lawyer, Gjystina Golloshi, declared the verdict to be a miscarriage of justice and said they would be further appealing the sentence to the high court within 30 days.

A friend and ex-colleague, Allyson McGregor, who is recording Brown's battle on a website, named His Children, dubbed the latest development in the case "devastating". She said: "It is very sad news and no-one expected it. I can hardly believe it."

She admitted on the website that Brown had let children sleep in his bed, but said "in Albanian culture it was normal for children to sleep with the parents".

Ms McGregor said she will return to Albania in November to visit Brown, who was also convicted of beating and maltreating the orphans, and continue the appeal against his conviction.

Brown's ex-partner and friend, Ruth Callaghan, said they would not give up the fight to free him.

She said: "During the next stage of the appeal the British Consul should be able to get involved, which will hopefully strengthen our case. As Albania is not in the European Union, it cannot be challenged under the Human Rights Act.

"It is an upsetting situation because his mother Sylvie, who lives in Argyll, was pinning her hopes on David coming home.

"She is unwell and is now wondering if she could make the journey out there to see him. She fears she won't see her son again."

She added: "David has now got a job as a cleaner in prison and he is well-liked and respected, even by officials."

Brown has always denied the charges of committing sexual acts against children, although he admitted he discovered children were being abused at the orphanage. He maintains that he immediately sacked the workers he believed were involved, but kept it from the authorities for fear the home would be shut down. His colleagues were later arrested.

Ms Callaghan said: "In retrospect David realises that he was wrong to downplay the actions of his colleagues, but he was being naive. He never, ever expected people like that to go work in an orphanage. In hindsight he would have done things differently."

Brown claimed he was compelled to open the care home eight years ago after seeing the plight of street children in Tirana while he travelled on an aid truck to Kosovo.

Campaigners hope that another trial date will be set early next year.
0

Where did I hear that before

She admitted on the website that Brown had let children sleep in his bed, but said "in Albanian culture it was normal for children to sleep with the parents".

Hmmm... Wasn't that, except for the cultural reference, the same defense Michael Jackson used?

Speaking of that cultural reference, isn't it common for children in many countries to sleep with their parents, at least on occassion? Still it should not be common for orphanage workers to do so, for very good reasons. The Ryan report goes into detail what happens when orphanage workers get into the habit of sleeping with the children in their care.

A different culture

A friend and ex-colleague, Allyson McGregor, who is recording Brown's battle on a website, named His Children, dubbed the latest development in the case "devastating". She said: "It is very sad news and no-one expected it. I can hardly believe it."

She admitted on the website that Brown had let children sleep in his bed, but said "in Albanian culture it was normal for children to sleep with the parents".

As a parent, I can understand welcoming one of my own children into my bed if my child is sick or had a nightmare or wants to be close to mommy because mommy is a source of safe affectionate (non-sexual) comfort.  However, this worker is neither a daddy nor a mommy to any of these "orphan" children.   While it may be part of normal Albanian culture for children to sleep with the parents, is it also part of normal Albanian culture for charity-workers to sleep with children sleeping in orphanages, too?

Brown has always denied the charges of committing sexual acts against children, although he admitted he discovered children were being abused at the orphanage. He maintains that he immediately sacked the workers he believed were involved, but kept it from the authorities for fear the home would be shut down. His colleagues were later arrested.

Keeping sexual abuse from the authorities is exactly what many within the Catholic Church did with they discovered pedophile priests sexually molesting unsuspecting vulnerable children.  Fear of being shut-down, or removed from one's position, is no excuse to hide abuse.

It's my belief a culture of secrecy is often a culture that can't be fully trusted, for a variety of reasons.  Therefore, when it comes to sexually abusing children (and future child safety and well-being), it's my own personal opinion keeping secrets about child sexual abuse should never be tolerated.  Keeping this sort of information hidden will only hurt the children and the good decent folks who want to help the young victims who have been touched/used inappropriately.

Those who choose to keep this sort of orphanage activity hush-hush and away from proper authorities should be punished.

Pound Pup Legacy