The Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia (AFELL) says the government’s action to probe into the sex abuse and rape of 10 girls at the More Than Me Academy is belated.
“The Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia welcomes the Government of Liberia’s action to launch an investigation into the rape scandal, but the action is belated,” AFELL president, Atty. Vivian D. Neal, said.
In a statement under the signature of Atty. Neal, AFELL said it has learned, with grave concern, of the alleged sexual assault and abuse of over 10 young girls of the More Than Me Academy some four years ago. She said AFELL looks forward to the outcome of the belated investigation and hopes that anyone found culpable will be made to face the full weight of the law.
Meanwhile, the joint Ministerial Committee set up by President George Weah to probe the scandal and which is headed by Gender Minister Piso Saydee-Tarr, over the weekend, provided updates on the government’s investigation of the case and noted that the primary concern of the investigative committee is the well-being of the girls.
She said the committee is collecting data from MTM Academy on the care given to the rape survivors and making in-depth engagement with the girls to avoid future stigma.
Minister Saydee-Tarr said the committee plans to interrogate all MTM employees and also subpoena all those who were interviewed in the documentary to appear before the investigative team. Because most of those interviewed for the documentary live in both the U.S. and Liberia, and collaboration with American authorities would likely be necessary for this to happen, she said.
Addressing calls for MTM Academy to be placed under trusteeship and for the institution’s license to operate 18 government schools to be revoked, Minister Saydee-Tarr said the organization’s private school would now be placed under a financial manager that would be named later. She said the Ministry of Education has also been directed to review the teaching credentials of all teachers at the academy.
Saydee-Tarr said MTM’s involvement with the Liberia Education Advancement Program (LEAP), formerly known as Partnership Schools for Liberia, must be reduced to schools already under its supervision.
She said one of the major steps taken by the government is a request for the Liberian Advisory Board of MTM to explain the full details surrounding founder Katie Meyler’s temporary resignation as CEO.
Saydee-Tarr said the government has asked that Meyler should not have access to or view any of More Than Me Academy’s documents during the period she is away from the institution.
It may be recalled that Ms. Katie Meyler entrusted a man named Macintosh Johnson to recruit vulnerable young girls in West Point for her school, which opened in 2013.
Johnson, who later died in prison and allegedly from AIDS, was her main contact on the ground while she continued to live outside Liberia for up to 10 months a year, lobbying for funding for her organization. According to police records, Johnson repeatedly raped 10 young girls under his care at his home and on the school property.