By Rufus S. Berry II, MBA
The sexual abuse of our innocent daughters at the hands of McIntosh Johnson, is a classic example of the consequences of Katie Meyler and both the Ministries of Education and Gender/Child Protection under the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Administration not intervening early on, when underaged girls were allegedly raped and infected with HIV. Bystanders who looked away, when they knew about the repeated incidents of child molestation and rape, are not innocent.
It is deplorable and absolutely wicked that any adult would molest a child. It is equally deplorable if both the Ministries of Education and Gender and Children Protection under the Sirleaf government knew that this was occurring and did nothing about it. Shame on all of us, including former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, if we personally or officially knew of these unspeakable crimes and remained silent.
Ordinary Liberians would be right to be asking the following questions:
- What did you know and what did you do about it… (the Former Minister of Education and the former Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection)
- What documentation or records do you have about these rape cases and what are you doing about it… (the current Minister of Education and the current minister of Gender and child Protection)?
- What is the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection current policy on the matter
- What is the Ministry of Education current policy on the matter
The abuse of our children at the American NGO, More Than Me (MTM) occurred under the administration of Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. At the moment, the former president hasn’t expressed any shame and sorrow for the abuse of our children under her protection. The silence from both the former president and her Ministers of Education and Gender is disturbing, and someone from their offices should say something.
According to an article written by Robtel Neajai Pailey and published on the Aljazeera website, Katie Meyler clearly lacked the capacity and integrity to work in Liberia. However, that did not deter former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf from giving her an abandoned government building for the MTM Academy and proclaiming at the academy’s opening in September 2013 that initiatives like Katie Meyler’s More Than Me Academy should be replicated across Liberia. As a mother, grandmother, and first female elected president, she had a greater responsibility to protect our children.
Officials in the past government must have known of this extremely terrible crime. If so, they are just as guilty as the late McIntosh Johnson. In the eyes of both God and man, bystanders who look away are not innocent. Anyone, especially Katie Meyler and former Education Minister Werner who knew what was going and did not act, may be classified as aiding and abetting the horrible crimes of rape and molestation.
The abuses described in the report are criminal and morally reprehensible. Those acts were betrayals of trust that robbed survivors of their dignity and their faith in their government. McIntosh Johnson was raping our little girls, and Katie Meyler and George Werner who were responsible for them not only did nothing; perhaps they help to suppress the information and destroy the records in various government agencies.
Some would argue that it is impossible to judge Katie Meyler and other former government officials who had knowledge of the alleged activity and did nothing. And yet all that evil needs to flourish is for a few good people to stand by and do nothing, when they hear of innocent children being brutally molested and raped at the hands of the late McIntosh Johnson.
According to news report, when a nurse informed Ms. Saga that McIntosh Johnson was raping girls at the School, she immediately called Katie Meyler in the USA and informed her. They had an impromptu board meeting with the Chairman of the Board. He and Katie were more interested in averting a public relations disaster than the welfare of the girls. Bad PR would have significantly cut the amount of money that they were trying to raise. They decided to downplay the situation. Miss. Saga persisted and said that they had to take immediate action. The Chairman of the Board’s response was “get off your fucking soapbox.”
They cared more about the donations than protecting the girls. The donations allowed them to live lavishly with exorbitant salaries and benefits. That is how most western charities do business. It’s more about the money than the real work they claim to be doing. Ms. Saga left MTM a few months later. According to Saga, the very next day, Ms. Meyler was the guest speaker at an occasion in NYC, speaking about the great work that they were doing in Liberia; taking vulnerable girls from the streets.
What is the penalty for Katie Meyler not notifying the authorities or both the Ministries of Education and Gender for their neglect and lack of oversight? The penalty is a lifetime of regret for every family member and family friend. The penalty is a life time of nightmares about what was seen, heard and experienced. The penalty is the guilt of knowing, for those who knew, and did nothing. There is also a legal component of complicity and the negligence of these institutions in executing their respective mandates.
This should be a wake-up call for our beloved country to examine its school system, regarding sexual abuses and exploitation, and especially lack of system. We need to be outraged for having a terrible system that doesn’t properly vet people who enter our school system as instructors.
- Where is the outrage when underaged students are molested and raped daily by instructors for grades?
- Where is the outrage when we employ teachers without police clearances, and without proper due diligence of these teachers resumes?
- Where is the outrage when teachers are sexually exploiting and impregnating our underaged students monthly?
In the case of the terrible crimes that occurred at MTM against our innocent daughters who were raped, molested and infected with the HIV virus, onlookers are no different than aides and abettors to the crime. This tragedy is a direct consequence of good people looking away when a crime is committed. Bystanders who did not act are not innocent.
Taking this to a higher level, the United States Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation need to look at the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, Money Laundering Act, and Human Trafficking laws to see if the American NGO MTM and its leader Katie Meyler have violated any of these laws. Katie Meyler as the head of MTM was intimately involved with government of Liberia officials and Riva Levinson. She was seen taking trips with them and fraternizing with them from pictures she posted. What were the conditions of these trips? Was she using money intended for the girls to sponsor these trips for government of Liberia officials or was she obtaining funds from third parties to make or facilitate these trips?
Additionally, there have been accusations of corruption and lack of accountability with regards to MTM Finances. Given the funds raised to the tune of greater than $8 Million United States dollars and the claims by staff at MTM that Katie bought used clothing for the children as well as the lack of modern equipment and materials for the children’s use, many suspect wrong doing. In the United States, the transfer of any funds for an illegal purpose is wire fraud. If MTM under Katie Meyler was wiring funds that were donated to the MTM Academy for different purposes not consistent with the donors’ intent, that could be interpreted as wire fraud.
Finally, if as depicted in the images from the video where Katie and McIntosh Johnson were transporting the girls from West Point to different locations for adult parties and at those times those girls were sexually molested or exploited, that can be considered human trafficking. Consequently, given the probability that significant United States laws have been violated by Katie Meyler and the More Than Me Academy, we are requesting that the US Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation launch a formal investigation into the activities of MTM and Katie Meyler from 2009 to present.
This tragedy is a direct consequence of good people looking away when a crime is committed. Bystanders who did not act are not innocent.
The author is a financial expert and an anti-corruption advocate. He can be reached at +231-886-362332, +231-770-301071or [email protected]