Police did not act upon cult reports — former church member

Jamaica Observer/October 24, 2021

By Kimberley Hibbert

THE police must also be blamed for the workings of under-pressure cult-like church, Pathways International Kingdom Restoration Ministries, one former member insists.

The ex-member said that police continually disregarded reports made about the untoward practices of the institution, which involved stripping young women, girls and shaving their genitalia before leader Kevin Smith could anoint them and pray for their healing.

According to the former member who was a part of Pathways for only a month and a half in 2020, the rationale for nudity was Adam and Eve — God created them naked so no one should be wearing clothes.

“It was widely accepted by a lot of people that it was so. A mother and daughter came in one Sunday and he called them up and sent for the olive oil that he wanted to anoint her, but couldn't do so because they were wearing clothes. The mother objected because her daughter was having her menstrual period and he had absolutely no qualms about it. He told her to take it off and in the presence of everybody there and this young girl, maybe 16 or 17, had to undress with her pad being shown in her panty and he went about anointing this girl, naked,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

He added, “There was one particular young lady where he came and told one of his bearers to bring his electric shear and she was shaved by another female right in front of everybody — no hair. He wanted to see everything that was down there. He was taking the shame away from her.”

The man, taken aback by what happened, told the Sunday Observer that the straw which broke the camel's back was when his wife and three daughters were being pressed to do the same thing.

“I objected and left. I was invited to be a part of something different, something new, and I went. But that was it for me,” he said. “I made a report to the Freeport Police in Montego Bay about what was taking place in the church. I left my name, my contact number. I gave my business name, my business number. Nobody came, nobody called, nobody said anything at all.”

Consequently, he blamed the police for the recent deaths that occurred on the compound as a result of occult practices.

“The police failed; people had given information to them. They could have acted earlier, especially when it came to the abuse of children. There were adults frolicking in front of children in the nude. Some things that happened, some things that I saw, it's just unbelievable the police are now taking credit for doing something when people have lost their lives. They could've done something from last February, they didn't do anything at all. They did nothing in relation to the people who reported what they saw and heard. Other people also made complaints and they did nothing at all,” he said.

When asked if he had receipts of making the report, the man said he just reported what he saw but did not give a statement. He, however, said the police took his name and particulars and said they would be in touch.

The man's allegations about atrocities towards women follow a 2020 social media post by tourists who also alleged that the leader of Pathways had locked them in a house they had rented from him through Airbnb.

The women alleged that they had rented the property from a woman, but Smith had recently purchased the home and in the middle of their stay, showed up with new rules which required permission to use the hot water or for the doors to be unlocked. The women said the situation escalated when they tried to leave before their stay was up but were prevented from doing so as one of Smith's lieutenants locked the doors.

The women said they eventually got out and had to climb the gate to leave the property. They said a report was made to the police who advised them that there was no law against locking people in a house.

However, Deputy Commissioner of Police Fitz Bailey said while he could not speak to the specifics of the matter involving the tourists, if a person is held against his will, it is false imprisonment.

Meanwhile, regarding the former Pathways member's assertions about the police, Senior Superintendent of Police Stephanie Lindsay said that if a person is aware of an offence, he is required to give a statement, which is different from a report.

“A report is when you come to the station and say something happened. There are some reports that, based on the nature of it, the police may be able to investigate and find evidence that can be placed before the court. But in most instances, it is required of people to follow that up with a statement, which is a detailed and chronological account of what they are alleging transpired. With that, the police can initiate further investigation and have a witness that you can put the matter before the court,” Lindsay said.

“A lot of people will come and say, 'I just come to tell the police'. But even if the police want to take action, there are some cases that you can't take action in because you didn't see the offence when it was committed. So, you have to rely on the witness. Unless the witness is willing to give a statement, it makes it a little difficult. You can go and warn, but you can't further it in a court of law unless you and the police go and visit the location and witness the offence being committed. A lot of people don't realise how important it is for people who are in the know to participate in the process by giving a statement,” Lindsay added.

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