Sex-ac­cused con­tin­ued job with teens

Vic­tim’s mum fu­ri­ous man al­lowed to work with pub­lic

Weekend Herald - - Front Page - Lane Ni­chols Il­lus­tra­tion / Rod Em­mer­son

Aman ac­cused of mo­lest­ing his step­daugh­ter was al­lowed to work with teenagers at a fa­cil­ity which also hosts kids’ birth­day par­ties while he was await­ing trial on the charges.

He was con­victed this week of 18 charges, in­clud­ing sex­ual vi­o­la­tion of a child, and he col­lapsed in the dock as the guilty ver­dicts were read.

He is in cus­tody await­ing sen­tenc­ing.

While un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion he also con­tin­ued work­ing in his main job, de­spite po­lice con­cerns and a writ­ten com­plaint from the girl’s mother.

The rev­e­la­tions have sparked claims an in­dus­try watch­dog failed to do its job and fears that pub­lic safety has been com­pro­mised.

But au­thor­i­ties have de­fended their ac­tions, say­ing peo­ple are in­no­cent till proven guilty and the man’s bail con­di­tions pre­vented him hav­ing un­su­per­vised con­tact with chil­dren.

How­ever, both the watch­dog and the man’s em­ploy­ers now ad­mit they didn’t un­der­stand the se­ri­ous­ness of his of­fend­ing and could have acted sooner with more in­for­ma­tion.

Le­gal rul­ings pre­vent him be­ing named and his oc­cu­pa­tion is sup­pressed.

Now in his 40s, he abused his step­daugh­ter for four years while she was aged 8-12 be­fore she con­fided last year to a school coun­sel­lor, who alerted po­lice and Child Youth and Fam­ily.

But even af­ter be­ing charged with a raft of sex crimes, in­clud­ing the at­tempted rape of a mi­nor, his pro­fes­sional li­cence was re­newed last De­cem­ber on ap­peal and he was al­lowed to con­tinue work­ing in his pro­fes­sion this year.

His li­cence had ear­lier been can­celled af­ter a po­lice vet­ting re­port re­vealed the charges.

Mean­while, he worked part-time this year at a fa­cil­ity that al­lowed him con­tact with un­der-19-year-old girls.

Though the fa­cil­ity also hosts chil­dren’s birth­day par­ties, its owner says the man worked in a sep­a­rate area, and that jus­tice of­fi­cials were “com­fort­able” with his role.

The owner ad­mit­ted be­ing un­aware about the ex­tent of the man’s charges and “prob­a­bly” wouldn’t have em­ployed him with the ben­e­fit of hind­sight.

The vic­tim’s mother is fu­ri­ous au­thor­i­ties let the man con­tinue work­ing with the pub­lic, say­ing his pro­fes­sion’s watch­dog “dropped the ball”.

She ar­rived home in June last year to find po­lice and CYFs of­fi­cers on her doorstep.

“I was pretty much numb. It was just mon­u­men­tal shock. I thought I had been vig­i­lant in keep­ing my chil­dren safe.”

She was told to re­move the man from her house or her chil­dren would be taken into fos­ter care.

De­spite be­ing un­der po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the man ob­tained pro­fes­sional work with an­other em­ployer, plus work at the fa­cil­ity.

The vic­tim’s mother said her daugh­ter be­came with­drawn fol­low­ing the abuse. The last 17 months had been “soul de­stroy­ing”.

“I hope now that my daugh­ter can heal and look for­ward to liv­ing the happy life she de­serves.

“He stole a third of her child­hood, that is heart­break­ing and un­for­giv­able.

“He made those de­ci­sions and he must now face the con­se­quences.”

De­tec­tive Steve Wil­son said he per­son­ally no­ti­fied the fa­cil­ity and pro­fes­sional watch­dog about the po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“They were cer­tainly aware of the charges and par­tic­u­lar bail con­di­tions.”

Asked if he con­sid­ered it ap­pro­pri­ate for the man to con­tinue work­ing while await­ing trial on sex charges, Wil­son said: “As a mem­ber of the pub­lic, I can see both sides, how­ever safe­guards were put in place to pro­tect the wider pub­lic.”

In a state­ment, the watch­dog said im­me­di­ate ac­tion was taken against the man this week af­ter his con­vic­tions.

“Pub­lic health and safety is al­ways an im­por­tant con­sid­er­a­tion, how­ever there is a le­gal pre­sump­tion that a per­son is in­no­cent un­til proven guilty.”

The watch­dog could ap­ply to sus­pend some­one’s li­cence in se­ri­ous cases.

But it said the full ex­tent of the man’s of­fend­ing had not been un­der­stood as the watch­dog did not have ac­cess to the Crown’s sum­mary of facts.

It “sought but was not pro­vided with suf­fi­cient in­for­ma­tion to al­low it to ex­er­cise all of its avail­able tools”.

The man’s pro­fes­sional boss said he was ter­mi­nated about two months ago when the se­ri­ous­ness of his charges came to light.

“He didn’t share as much as he prob­a­bly should have. It’s dis­ap­point­ing.

“It’s sad for the vic­tim and her par­ents. It’s gut­ting for them.”

He stole a third of her child­hood, that is heart­break­ing and un­for­giv­able.

Vic­tim’s mother

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