Sunday, September 04, 2016

Australia: Female child protection unit worker, 50, charged with sex with boy -- offences that were first reported 21 YEARS ago

A child protection officer in Victoria has been charged with two sex offences which took place more than two decades ago while she was worked as a youth detention officer.

The 50-year-old woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, worked for the child protection division at the Department of Health and Human Services, reported The Age.

The woman allegedly molested a 16-year-old boy in 1995 who was in custody at the Melbourne Juvenile Justice Centre.

The allegations were first reported in 1996 by a unit manager at the centre, who submitted a complaint to the then-secretary of the DHHS.

The complaint was accompanied by signed witness statements from the alleged victim, other youth officers and a YMCA employee.

An investigation in the same year reportedly found the woman had engaged in inappropriate conduct, but the department decided not to take any action.

The allegations were reported to Victoria Police in 2015, after the same whistleblower in the DHHS who reported the incident in 1996, passed on the evidence to the royal commission into child sex abuse.

The unit manager was not interviewed by police regarding the incident until 2015.

The woman has been charged with sexual penetration of a child 16 or 17 years old under her care, supervision or authority, and committing an indecent act with a child 16 or 17 years old under her care, supervision or authority.

She has now also been stood down from her job.

While working as a youth detention officer, the woman allegedly initiated the sexual contact with the 16-year-old. She is said to have visited his room at night and performed sex acts on him in the toilets. After he was released from juvenile detention the conduct allegedly escalated.

On Friday the Victorian Government ordered an independent investigation on the department, which has been accused of covering up the alleged abuse.

The Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos has appointed former Supreme Court judge Frank Vincent to oversee the investigation.

Because the disclosure was made before Victoria passed its whistleblower protection legislation, the unit manager who initially reported the abuse in 1996, and again in 2015, alleged his job was threatened and was transferred despite protest.

A DHHS spokeswoman said the department was unable to comment further because the matter was before the courts.


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