By LULU MARK
A FAMILY is highly concerned after spotting a man sentenced to jail for sex-related offences earlier this month driving around town unescorted last week.
According to the family, the man identified as Dr Oswald Harrison, of Bangalu village in Kavieng, New Ireland, was convicted by the National Court at Kavieng on Nov 2 on two counts of persistent sexual touching and one count of online grooming of his girlfriend’s daughter.
Harrison was jailed five years for the charge of persistent sexual touching and for online grooming was directed by the court to pay a fine of K2,000 within a month from Nov 2.
The mother (named) of the victim told The National that it took them a very long time to fight the battle in court and it was very disappointing to see that a perpetrator of a sexual offence against a child was allowed to move freely in the community.
Correctional Service (CS) Commissioner Stephen Pokanis told The National that he was aware of the incident and had directed his deputies to find out from the Kavieng prison commanding officer what had transpired last week.
The National then contacted the Correctional Services assistant commissioner New Guinea Islands Philip Pranis, who confirmed that he had been made aware of an issue of a prisoner seen driving a vehicle in Kavieng.
“The commander of the Kavieng prison has confirmed there is an internal investigation into the issue of the prisoner seen driving a vehicle during a routine visit to the Kavieng Court House,” Pranis said.
Pranis had assured the CS hierarchy that he would have a report done and submitted to the CS headquarters on the incident.
The mother claimed Harrison had started abusing her daughter sometimes in 2016 when she was seven years old and continued until last year.
At the time, the mother was in Port Moresby studying and the daughter was in New Ireland with her family.
The mother said she and Harrison were dating since 2015, so when he moved to Kavieng to work at the provincial hospital, he visited the family and that was when and where the sexual offences started.
“I walked out on the relationship the day I learnt about what my daughter went through and fought for justice for my daughter,” the mother said.
“After completing my studies last year, I moved to ENB and my daughter joined me.
“Because the primary school she was attending has a good awareness programme against sexual offences against children, she first opened up to her teacher and then I was called in.
“I learnt about the incident on a Tuesday and on the Thursday of the same week, the matter was reported to police.
“The case was filed in Rabaul and transferred to Kavieng in May and the perpetrator was arrested last July 4 and charged with three offences, bail was K500 for each offence.
“After Harrison was arrested, the hospital suspended him and after two months, he was reinstated and continued working even after numerous complaints laid by us with respect to the seriousness of the allegations and the fact that he was holding a public office.
“The hospital didn’t do anything about it but we battled this through the court and then he was convicted on Sept 14 by the National Court.
“While being a prisoner on bail, he continued working at the hospital until Nov 2 when he received the sentence.
“There has always been a blockade for every turn we took and now since he’s gone into prison and the least we want is for him to serve the full prison term.
“For Harrison moving around freely questions the credibility of this justice system – I don’t know how it works, especially for women and children, for this kind for crimes against children.
“We have a lot of loopholes in public service and there’s a lot of these kinds of perpetrators that are being entertained in public offices and there is no clear law or policy on how to deal with public servants as soon as a allegation such as this is laid against them.”
The mother expressed that the counselling service available for children and women was scarce and though it’s a lifetime of trauma for children, the only support system available was the family.
By LULU MARK