Diaspora

Former Haitian sports minister Evans Lescouflair accused of raping children – The Guardian

A former sports minister of Haiti has been accused of repeatedly raping an 11-year-old pupil while a teacher in the 1980s and is facing a civil lawsuit brought by several other alleged victims who claim he sexually abused them.
Complaints against Evans Lescouflair, who served in several posts at Haiti’s Ministry of Youth, Sports and Civic Action between 2008 and 2011 and remains influential in Haitian football as president of youth side Club Sportif Saint-Louis, were sent to the commissaire of Port-au-Prince governorate on Thursday by lawyers working on behalf of Claude-Alix Bertrand and several other alleged victims. It is understood that they contain accusations that one of Lescouflair’s alleged victims killed themselves in 2008.
“It’s a criminal complaint about the repeated rape of minors under 15 years old,” the lawyer Franck Vanéus told the Guardian. “The sentence for this crime is life imprisonment.”
Bertrand – the Haitian ambassador to Unesco and captain of Haiti’s national polo team – told the Guardian that he was abused by Lescouflair when he was an 11-year-old student at Saint-Louis de Gonzague at the end of the 1980s.
“He touched my intimate parts in a way that no one did before,” said Bertrand. “It was so uncomfortable. I didn’t understand anything, I was just a child. I asked him why he was doing it. He kept doing it and asked me: ‘You don’t like it?’
“After that day, I tried to avoid his look. But he kept me a second time, a third time. Each time he kept me apart after a class, things were going further until the day he raped me. He penetrated me. I cried, begging him to stop but nothing changed. It lasted for two years. It happened in an office far away from the classroom.”
Bertrand says that he experienced severe depression but did not report the abuse because he was afraid of the potential consequences.
“I grew up in a society where the teachers had all the rights,” he said. “I thought that no one would believe me. I even thought that I may be punished for it … I was only 11 years old, I was a child and I was so scared. He kept going until the day I became sick.”
Bertrand’s family subsequently moved to the United States, where he has received psychiatric treatment for several years.
“That place stayed in my mind,” he says. “Even today, it’s hard, I won’t lie. Since I first talked about it, my life changed. The life of my parents changed too. But I have to face it because I’m not the only victim of this man. It’s been more than 40 years that he abused young boys in our country.”
Lescouflair refused to answer questions from the Guardian but told the Haitian newspaper La Nouvelliste in February after Bertrand’s accusations first went public that he had “nothing to say, since the man who made this statement is married to a man of foreign nationality” – a reference to the fact that Bertrand is gay.
During his spell as sports minister, Lescouflair worked closely with Yves Jean-Bart, the former Haiti Football Federation (FHF) president who was banned from football for life in December 2020 after being found guilty of sexually abusing and harassing young female players. Lescouflair is alleged to have abused boys at the Club Sportif Saint-Louis youth system after he established an academy programme known as Anafoot with the coach Jacques Succès Orisme in 2008. Orisme died in April 2020.
“Lescouflair always told Jacky to watch this boy or this boy,” said one alleged victim who did not want to be named. “Each time Lescouflair came, one boy was ‘punished’. It happened in Jacky’s bedroom. Jacky also raped many of us. But other people abused us – it was terrible. In the three months I spent there, it was a nightmare. As I said, some of my friends left with me. We were kids and on the run. We were in three categories: under-15, under-17 and under-20. I was 14 when it happened. And you know, one of my friends died because of it. He committed suicide in 2008. He was a victim of Lescouflair.”
The dead player’s mother said: “We’re so afraid. Lescouflair is still a powerful man. We don’t trust Haitian justice or police. Our son died after being raped by this man. We wish to do something but what? We could be killed just by revealing our existence.”
It is understood that lawyers have requested a private hearing to ensure that some of the alleged victims can maintain their anonymity. Lescouflair was accused of raping underage boys in 2010 but the case was closed by a judge citing a lack evidence. In 2015, Lescouflair was accused of abusing young players by Himmler Rebu, who served as sports minister between 2014 and 2015, in a letter to La Nouvelliste. It is also understood that Rebu sent a report to the country’s then president, Michel Martelly, that alleged some of Lescouflair’s abuses took place at the FHF’s Centre Technique National in Croix-des-Bouquets during Jean-Bart’s reign.
“The topic you are investigating was the subject of an official report sent to the highest authorities of my country when I was minister of the Youth, Sports and Civil action,” Rebu told the Guardian. “I have to keep a reserve of duty and can’t answer your questions.”
Meanwhile, Jean-Bart’s appeal against his lifetime ban from Fifa is being held this week, with a verdict expected in July.

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