Senator calls again for independent inquiry into sexual misconduct allegations at Regiment
Opposition Senate leader Michael Dunkley yesterday renewed his call for an independent inquiry into historic allegations of sexual misconduct at the Bermuda Regiment.
The One Bermuda Alliance politician said The Royal Gazettes revelation on Tuesday that former Major Glenn Brangman was repeatedly accused of such behaviour while in the army but kept his job for 13 years should prompt a thorough investigation.
It should be an independent inquiry, he said. I would have thought the authorities could have set up an independent inquiry into this for people who have experienced wrongdoing.
Its done all over the world all the time. If people are serious about moving forward, it can happen.
This newspaper discovered in 2009 that Brangman, 59, was accused by 13 male soldiers of sexual abuse or harassment between 1989 and 2002, when he was ordered to retire from military service.
We published our findings, prompting calls for a Royal Commission, but could not name the accused until Monday, when he was convicted of a non-Regiment related sexual assault on a teenage clerk at Bermuda Housing Corporation (BHC).
Senator Dunkley said: Based on the recent turn of events and the conviction that has taken place, I think its now incumbent that there is a detailed investigation that goes on in regard to these allegations.
I reiterate my call from a couple of years ago that it needs to be looked into, not as a witch hunt, but because there has been much discussion about it. These are very serious matters we are dealing with here.
I dont really care how its done but it needs to be done and there needs to be some accountability and the results need to be made public, because the community deserves that.
Former Quartermaster Brangman was hired as a government consultant in 2005 and made general manager of BHC in April 2007, when David Burch, a former commanding officer of the Regiment, was Housing Minister.
Sen Dunkley said there were valid and pertinent questions to be asked about why Brangman was given a job at the quango, where he regularly came into contact with vulnerable young men in need of housing.
After this newspaper revealed the alleged sexual misconduct in September 2009, three inquiries were launched: by the Regiment, the then Ministry of Home Affairs and the Human Rights Commission (HRC).
The latter probe is still ongoing after 28 months, with commissioners due to receive a report on the issue at their next meeting on March 1.
Sen Dunkley said the Regiment and Ministry could not investigate themselves and asked of the HRC inquiry: How long does it take to investigate something?
He said current Regiment commanding officer (CO), Lieutenant Colonel Brian Gonsalves, had done an excellent job of improving the situation at Warwick Camp.
But he said those in authority still needed to answer for what happened and Bermuda owed it to the alleged victims to get to the truth of the claims.
There are people that are scarred for life. I think if we can at least show them that there are some in this community that care about them, they can at least get some type of closure.
MP Wayne Furbert made a similar call for an inquiry in October 2009.
At the time, he questioned why people werent marching in the streets about the scandal and said: It could be a Royal Commission or some commission, whatever you want to call it, but I think something has to be done.
Mr Furbert, who now represents the PLP in Parliament and is Tourism Minister, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Defence Board chairman Wendell Hollis told this newspaper he felt calls for a Royal Commission were not valid.
Mr Hollis said the statistics did not back up the need for an inquiry now, since he was aware of just two reports of sexual misconduct in the army since Brangmans retirement.
National Security Minister Wayne Perinchief would not comment on the Brangman matter earlier this week.
A spokeswoman said: CO Gonsalves has already satisfactorily commented on the matter and the Minister has nothing to add.
We asked the spokeswoman if he would respond to Sen Dunkleys comments but no answer was received by press time.
Governor Sir Richard Gozney said in October 2009 there was no convincing argument for a Royal Commission into the allegations.