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Governor vows to hold school officials accountable in DHS probe related to conviction of Bruce Smith

Governor Albert Bryan Jr. speaks during a press conference today at Government House on St. Thomas.
Source: Clara Freeman, Office of the Governor executive photographer
Governor Albert Bryan Jr. speaks during a press conference today at Government House on St. Thomas.

ST. CROIX — Governor Albert Bryan Jr. said during a press conference today at Government House on St. Thomas that he would publicly release the findings of an ongoing investigation into the Virgin Islands Department of Education relating to a former track coach and school monitor at Charlotte Amalie High School recently convicted of raping boys.

The governor said school officials with knowledge of the abuse would be held accountable if they failed to report it, pointing out the territory’s laws.

Alfredo Bruce Smith, 53, was sentenced to 35 years in prison in federal court on April 26 after pleading guilty to all 20 counts charged against him in an indictment, including rape and production of child pornography. He admitted to sexually abusing 12 boys throughout the 15 years he worked at Charlotte Amalie High School from 2006 until his arrest in 2021.

While Homeland Security Investigations began investigating allegations against Smith after receiving reports that he inappropriately touched a minor during a school-sponsored track and field trip in March of 2019 in Puerto Rico, the central government also launched its own investigation.

Bryan, in response to a question from WTJX, said his administration didn’t want the VI Department of Education to investigate itself, so the Department of Human Services was tasked with the job.

“Department of Human Services have been conducting a investigation for quite some time,” he said. “Up to this morning, I called for a follow-up meeting so we could get a status update. As soon as I get it, I’ll get it to you.”

Bryan said the DHS investigation was initially being led by former Human Services Commissioner Kimberley Causey-Gomez, who led the department from 2019 until her resignation in 2023. The Legislature has since approved the governor’s nomination of Averil George to serve as DHS commissioner. Bryan said he would follow up with DHS to find out the status of the investigation, adding that he would let the public know.

“I know the public has become extremely concerned about this situation as we have as well,” he said.

In addition to publicly releasing the findings of the DHS investigation, Bryan said school officials would be held accountable if they received information about the sexual abuse but failed to report it.

“It’s the law,” Bryan said. “It’s not a choice on my part.”

Failure to report crimes committed against children is a felony for professionals mandated by law to report child abuse, including physicians, nurses, dentists, childcare workers, teachers, and law enforcement officers, according to the Virgin Islands Code, Title 5. The penalty for violating the law includes a fine of between $5,000 to $10,000 or two to five years in prison, or both.

Tom Eader is the Chief Reporter for WTJX. Originally from South Bend, Indiana, Eader received his bachelor's degree in journalism from Ball State University, where he wrote for his college newspaper. He moved to St. Croix in 2003, after landing a job as a reporter for the St. Croix Avis. Eader worked at the Avis for 20 years, as both a reporter and photographer, and served as Bureau Chief from 2013 until their closure at the beginning of 2024. Eader is an award-winning journalist, known for his thorough and detailed reporting on multiple topics important to the Virgin Islands community. Joining the WTJX team in January of 2024, Eader brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the newsroom. Email: | Phone: 340-227-4463