Former Community Services worker sued for failing to protect sisters from sexually abusive stepfather
- Category: Child Protection NSW media and newspaper articles
- Created: Monday, 11 August 2014 22:39
- Written by Lorna Knowles - ABC News
After suffering years of sexual abuse at the hands of their stepfather, two sisters are suing a former community services case worker and the NSW Government for failing to protect them. The women, known as TB and DC, say that despite knowing about the abuse and documenting their complaints, both the department and the former officer did not report it to the police.
Lawyers for the pair say it is the first time a Department of Community Services (DOCS) worker has been personally sued for not protecting children at risk. The former worker, Carolyn Quinn, is now a high-profile child protection consultant and was appointed by the minister to the NSW Carers Advisory Council.
The abuse of the two girls began in the 1970s when they were five and eight. Their stepfather repeatedly raped and indecently assaulted them. He took sexually explicit photographs of the pair and regularly beat and threatened them. The court heard that their stepfather would beat the girls with a leather strap, threaten them with a knife and handcuff them.
In early 1983, one of the sisters phoned the then-Department of Youth and Community Services (now DOCS) to report the abuse. Ms Quinn interviewed the girl and prepared a report detailing their story.
She also subsequently interviewed the stepfather who admitted the abuse and the girls' mother who also acknowledged she knew about the attacks on her daughters. At the same time, the stepfather had been arrested and charged with raping his son's 15-year-old girlfriend at knifepoint.
Ms Quinn also documented the attack and the man's criminal history of child sex attacks dating back to 1963.
Girls resumed supervised contact with stepfather
Later that year, the Children's Court found that the girls were "neglected". Despite this, and on the advice of Ms Quinn, the girls were returned to live with their mother and supervised contact with the stepfather continued. DC and TB say their mother allowed their stepfather to visit the family home and keep abusing them and that she also took the girls to his house. The stepfather was eventually jailed for 10 years in 2006 after pleading guilty to nine counts of physical and sexual assault.
He was released after serving just four years.
Counsel for the sisters, Dr Andrew Morrison SC, told the court: "Ms Quinn knew [the stepfather] was unreformed, unrepentant and a present and immediate threat to these girls and that he was returning to the house on a daily basis." Barrister for Ms Quinn, Penny Wass SC, said her client was not negligent and disputed the claim that the girls' case was not reported to police.
The two women, who now suffer agoraphobia and depression, are seeking aggravated and exemplary damages.
The case is set down for two weeks.
Source : https://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-08-11/former-docs-worker-sued-for-failing-to-protect-girls-from-abuse/5663378