“Judge’s eyes open to pain – child sex abuse testimony gives commissioner Peter McClellan a sense of victims’ scars ” & related articles

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The Daily Telegraph (Australia)

September 19, 2013 12:00AM

Judge's eyes open to pain

Chair of the Commission, Justice Peter McClellan. Source: News Limited

Royal commissioner Peter McClellan once banned a prosecutor from a gang rape trial because she showed empathy for the victim and had given a lecture about the case.

Justice McClellan, who this week said that he had not appreciated how devastating sexual assault was to a victim, had slammed senior crown prosecutor Margaret Cunneen’s public show of support for the 17-year-old who had been raped 25 times by 14 men in four locations over six hours.

As they walked from court after the guilty verdict, Ms Cunneen SC told the waiting media: “I commend the quality of the police investigation and the fortitude of the victim.”

In a joint judgment, Justice McClellan and his fellow judges on the Court of Criminal Appeal, Justice Virginia Bell and Justice Cliff Heoben, said a prosecutor had to be impartial.

They quashed the man’s conviction but banned Ms Cunneen from prosecuting the retrial despite being told the victim would not give evidence again without her support.

The man, known as MG, was acquitted at the retrial after the witness, known as Miss C, was too distressed to give evidence. Her previous evidence was read to the jury, who did not know that he was already serving at least 15 years in prison for his role in two other gang rapes along with Bilal Skaf and others.

In his opening statement at the commission on Monday, Justice McClellan said: “In my role as a judge I have been called upon to review many of the sentences imposed upon people convicted of the sexual abuse of children but I readily acknowledge that until I began my work with the commission, I did not adequately appreciate the devastating and long lasting affect which sexual abuse however inflicted can have on an individual’s life.”

The case of MG was one of the notorious gang rapes in 2000.

Justice McClellan also sat on appeal courts that reduced MG’s sentence – after his acquittal on his retrial – and the sentences of brother rapists Bilal and Mohammed Skaf for back-to-back pack rapes.

Ms Cunneen, whose support for Miss C outside the court and lecture to law students at Newcastle University also brought criticism from other judges, went on to be appointed a Senior Counsel and is currently the commissioner on a parallel inquiry to that being conducted by Justice McClellan.

She is investigating the handling of child sexual abuse allegations in the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

Justice McClellan declined to comment when approached yesterday by The Daily Telegraph.

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Royal commission told Docs was ‘dead end’ for reporting child abuse

Former Scouts NSW chief says he did not have confidence in the Department of Community Services over Larkins allegations

The Guardian

Tuesday 17 September 2013 07.21 BST

in Sydney

Gail Furness, SC

Gail Furness, senior council assisting the commission, said she had information from the scouts that goes ‘well beyond Steven Larkins’. Photograph: Les O’Rourke

The former chief executive of Scouts NSW, Peter Olah, did not have confidence in the Department of Community Services (Docs) to follow up on complaints of child sexual abuse within his organisation, describing the process of reporting to them as “a dead end”, the royal commission into child sexual abuse has heard.

The commission heard from current and former scouts employees about how Steven Larkins – now in jail over charges relating to child abuse and child pornography – remained in close contact with children for years despite being the subject of a police investigation, apprehended violence orders and multiple rumours and allegations of suspicious behaviour while he was a scout leader.

Further allegations and details of “sizeable” insurance payouts to victims will come to light concerning abuse within Scouts Australia, the hearing was told.

Senior counsel assisting the commission, Gail Furness, told the commission: “We are well developed in obtaining a great deal of information from the scouts that goes well beyond Mr Larkins, including claims and the history of all allegations that have been made.”

Olah, who headed Scouts Australia’s NSW branch from 1999-2000, told the hearing that he had instigated a new method of mandatory complaint reporting during his tenure in response to what he saw as a process that was “too internalised”. Olah said there was an angry response from scout leaders, who felt they had been “thrown under the bus”, but said the protection of children had to take priority.

In his position as chief executive, Olah handled the complaint from witness AA in 2000, who reported Larkins for sexually abusing him as a child after seeing Larkins still working with children at a scouts event.

Olah told the hearing that when he took up the role he inherited half a filing drawer of behavioural reports dating back to the 1950s. Among those were fewer than 10 reports of child sexual abuse, Olah estimated. He did not believe there was a report on Steven Larkins’ behaviour when he checked in 2000 after hearing from AA.

Upon hearing AA’s complaint, Olah said he suspended Larkins and informed the joint investigative response team, which referred him to the police. He did not inform Docs as he felt that was a “dead end” because Docs “rarely had an aggressive follow-up”.

The matter was taken up by police and Olah stopped following up with them before the end of the year, assuming that he would hear from them if there was any news. Larkins was not charged until 2011.

Before Olah’s appearance, the former regional commissioner for scouts NSW, Allan Currie, continued his testimony from Monday, defending a letter he wrote to Larkins informing him that he was no longer allowed face-to-face contact with children after police investigated an incident involving Larkins handing out lollies to children at the public pool in Stockton.

In the letter, Currie wrote to Larkins that “this type of publicity as you would well realise is something that we in the scouts association can well do without. The [redacted] Stockton group are at present running in damage control mode and it may be very difficult for them to get the local community back on side.”

Currie said he was trying to protect the Stockton scouts group, which was in danger of closing. He also revealed to the hearing that the scouts association had asked Larkins to resign quietly in 2003 after three years of suspension, allegedly to avoid the publicity of sacking a man who was part Aboriginal.

“The feeling was that if we reinstated him and he caused any further issues it would be bad [enough], but if we dismissed him he could then use the racial discrimination card,” said Currie.

Larkins resigned in May 2003.

The hearing followed on from statements heard on Monday from two men who were sexually assaulted as children by Larkins in 1992 and 1997, as well as from a former scouts employee, Armand Hoitink, who alleged that Larkins’ behaviour was “common knowledge” among high-level scouts employees.

This week’s hearings are examining the responses of Docs, the Commission for Children and Young People, Scouts Australia’s NSW branch and Hunter Aboriginal Children’s Services (Hacs) to reports of Larkins’s conduct.

The hearing continues with testimony from members of the NSW police force.

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Support group for abuse victims makes its presence felt at royal commission

Members of Clan describe their own suffering in children’s institutions as they gather in solidarity with witnesses

theguardian.com  (Australia)

 

in Sydney

 

CLAN royal commission sexual abuse

Members of Care Leavers Australia Network (Clan) stand outside the royal commission hearings into institutional responses to child sexual abuse. Photograph: Helen Davidson/Guardian

Outside the building on the first day of the public hearing of the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse, representatives from the Care Leavers Australia Network (Clan), an advocacy and support group for people who grew up in Australian institutions and suffered abuse, gathered in the wind and rain to make their presence felt.

Inside, the commission would hear from two men who were assaulted as children by their former scout leader, the since-convicted paedophile Steven Larkins. It also heard from former scout leaders and employees who faced the hearing to answer questions as to how a man who was the subject of police investigations and numerous allegations of suspicious behaviour was allowed to remain working with children for years.

In his opening address, Justice Peter McClellan said: “I did not adequately appreciate the devastation and long-lasting effect which sexual abuse, however inflicted, can have on an individual’s life.

“It is reported to us that when it occurs in residential institutions, sexual abuse is almost always accompanied by almost unbelievable levels of physical violence.

“Many of the stories we are hearing will shock people.”

Clan member Yvette Parr and her two sisters spent about two years in the 1950s in the Convent of the Good Shepherd in Melbourne, where Parr said they faced abuse and neglect after being abandoned by their father.

“We were subjected to some, I don’t even know how to explain it,” said Parr, trailing off.

“My little sister started wetting the bed again and the nuns made her wear the knickers on her head and wet sheets around her shoulders and paraded her around and called her ‘smelly’. Awful stuff.

“[My sisters] don’t want to be here but they don’t stop me – they support me because I’m here for them, too.”

Parr – who said she was also sexually abused as a child – has never had counselling and doesn’t know what she wants to hear at the commission.

Sunday was a sleepless night for her. She said she didn’t know that Larkins had gone on to work at Kendall Grange, a school for troubled boys where more than a dozen former students allege they were abused by a St John of God brother during the 1970s and 1980s.

“I’m here to support these kids and the people that have got the courage to be here today,” she said. “Just so they know that they are loved. Because we’re family to them.

“I’m here to tell my story because I back up what happened to the other kids.”

Clan executive officer Leonie Sheedy said the group had been calling for this royal commission since Clan was established in 2000, when 300 people attended its first meeting in Ashfield. Sheedy said they were naive to have held the meeting in a church – many people were too traumatised to enter a building that represented the abuse they suffered as children.

For close to 15 years Clan has lobbied for the royal commission, a Senate inquiry and a compensation scheme. Members sent 10,000 postcards to former prime minister Julia Gillard, who announced the commission in 2012.

“I want a light shone on this hidden history,” Sheedy told Guardian Australia.

“There are 500,000 Australians who were raised in the 800 or more orphanages and children’s homes, and we’re invisible.

“We haven’t spoken about our trauma and abuse and neglect because as children we were told that we were no-hopers in life, that we were going to end up as prostitutes and in jail. It takes us half our lifetime to find our voice, if we do at all.”

Sheedy and her fellow Clan members hope that their presence encourages more people to come forward with their story and shift the burden of shame “squarely on the government, the churches and the charities who failed in their duty of care to you as a child”.

“Don’t take this story to the grave, because your story won’t do anybody any good in the coffin,” she said.

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Child sex abuse commission to hear evidence on paedophile Steve Larkins

Hearings will examine how organisations handled complaints about Larkins, who was head of a foster care service

The Guardian (UK)

Australian Associated Press

Monday 16 September 2013 01.22 BST

theguardian.com 

Justice Peter McClellan
Chief commissioner, Justice Peter McClellan, believes people will be shocked at the extent of abuse. Photograph: Damian Shaw/AAPImage

The head of NSW community services, as well as former and current executives of Scouts Australia, are to be called as witnesses at the royal commission into child sexual abuse in Sydney.

The first public hearings opened on Monday morning and all six commissioners will hear evidence from victims and organisations in relation to convicted paedophile and former Scout master Steve “Skip” Larkins, who is in jail for child pornography offences.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is looking at how organisations dealt with complaints about Larkins, who was head of a foster care service for Aboriginal children up to 2011 even though the Scouts had received complaints about him in the 1990s.

A witness list published by the commission includes former Scout commissioner Bill Metcalfe and former Scout leader and whistleblower Armand Hoitink, as well as other Scout notables including Alan Currie.

The chief executive of community services in the NSW Department of Family and Community Services, Maree Walk, as well as the Children’s Guardian and acting commissioner for children and young people, Kerryn Boland, are on the list of witnesses for the Sydney hearings, which could run for two weeks.

The Monday hearing will hear statements from two victims and a mother of a victim.

Former staff members of the Hunter Aboriginal Children’s Service will also be called to answer questions, and members of NSW Police will appear.

The chief commissioner, justice Peter McClellan, says he believes people will be shocked at the extent of the abuse and the profound level of impact on victims and the families of victims.

___________________________________

Child sex abuse alleged 23 times a day

The Australian

AAP

September 06, 2013 4:27PM
A ROYAL commission set to expose how institutions have failed child sex abuse victims is receiving an average of 23 phone calls a day.

More than 4300 people have called since the inquiry began to report abuse perpetrated against children.

The response to the commission has been so overwhelming that commissioners say it will be impossible to make findings in relation to every institute where child sex abuse allegedly occurred.

Speaking at a Bravehearts White Balloon Day in Brisbane on Friday, Justice Peter McClellan AM said the commission would have to be selective when investigating and holding public hearings into allegations of abuse.

Already, 326 child sex abuse victims have told a commissioner of their abuse, while another 423 are waiting to share their stories.

There are also 1000 waiting to be assessed for private sessions with commission staff.

Justice McClellan said some patterns of child sex abuse were beginning to emerge.

He said some of the stories would shock people.

“It is apparent that where an organisation lacks an appropriate culture and there are not appropriate practices and training of staff within the organisation, there is a risk that sexual abuse will occur,” he said.

“In some institutions there may be only one perpetrator. In others there will be multiple abusers and many children may be abused.

“In residential institutions sexual abuse is almost always reported to be accompanied by almost unbelievable levels of physical violence inflicted on the children by the adults who had responsibility for their welfare.”

The royal commission was established in January to examine how institutions responsible for children have managed and responded to allegations and instances of child sexual abuse.

Public hearings will begin Sydney on September 16.

Child sex abuse alleged 23 times a day

A ROYAL commission set to expose how institutions have failed child sex abuse victims is receiving an average of 23 phone calls a day.

More than 4300 people have called since the inquiry began to report abuse perpetrated against children.

The response to the commission has been so overwhelming that commissioners say it will be impossible to make findings in relation to every institute where child sex abuse allegedly occurred.

Speaking at a Bravehearts White Balloon Day in Brisbane on Friday, Justice Peter McClellan AM said the commission would have to be selective when investigating and holding public hearings into allegations of abuse.

Already, 326 child sex abuse victims have told a commissioner of their abuse, while another 423 are waiting to share their stories.

There are also 1000 waiting to be assessed for private sessions with commission staff.

Justice McClellan said some patterns of child sex abuse were beginning to emerge.

He said some of the stories would shock people.

“It is apparent that where an organisation lacks an appropriate culture and there are not appropriate practices and training of staff within the organisation, there is a risk that sexual abuse will occur,” he said.

“In some institutions there may be only one perpetrator. In others there will be multiple abusers and many children may be abused.

“In residential institutions sexual abuse is almost always reported to be accompanied by almost unbelievable levels of physical violence inflicted on the children by the adults who had responsibility for their welfare.”

The royal commission was established in January to examine how institutions responsible for children have managed and responded to allegations and instances of child sexual abuse.

Public hearings will begin Sydney on September 16.

– See more at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/latest-news/child-sex-abuse-alleged-23-times-a-day/story-fn3dxiwe-1226713443595#sthash.s5wfYNej.dpuf

3 Responses to “Judge’s eyes open to pain – child sex abuse testimony gives commissioner Peter McClellan a sense of victims’ scars ” & related articles

  1. Sylvia says:

    “In his opening statement at the commission on Monday, Justice McClellan said: ‘In my role as a judge I have been called upon to review many of the sentences imposed upon people convicted of the sexual abuse of children but I readily acknowledge that until I began my work with the commission, I did not adequately appreciate the devastating and long lasting affect which sexual abuse however inflicted can have on an individual’s life.’”

    With credentials like this Justice McClellan should have no problem understanding the old chestnut we heard time and again at the Cornwall Public Inquiry: ‘We didn’t know. We didn’t understand.’

  2. JG says:

    ….4300!
    Not enough tears can be shed, not enough money given, not enough regrets expressed…
    The horror of it all!…the shame of it all!
    Children…babies!
    …and the debate goes on!
    We don’t deserve “Salvation” when such crimes still need any kind of debate, any kind of excuse, or explanation…
    The horror in the eyes of those children cannot be explained away in a “nice” place …
    One child was one too many!…and the number seems endless and growing.
    The horror!…under the “care” of Rome!!
    We all deserve a hundred lashes for being of the same species as those monsters!..
    jg

  3. Mike Fitzgerald says:

    I hope the Canadian judiciary awakes to this reality; Sexual abuse of anyone is horrible, devastating, and lasts for an entire lifetime.
    Can there be any worse crime? Let me know, Father. Mike.

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