Friday, September 26, 2014

Convicted pedophile dad granted child access visits after getting out of prison; 17-year-old sexually abused daughter finally commits suicide (Brisbane, Australia)

Sickening on every level. UNNAMED DAD.

Sex abuse case reveals family court failings 

The Australian September 27, 2014 12:00AM

Trent Dalton Writer, TWAM


THE damning case of a 17-year-old Western Australian girl who took her own life after her father — a convicted pedophile — was granted access visits to his children upon release from prison has inspired a national campaign to address deficiencies in the family courts.

In May last year, Abbey (surname withheld) disclosed to her mother that her father sexually assaulted her repeatedly between the ages of three and seven.

In 2002, Abbey’s father was criminally charged for the sexual assault of Abbey’s best friend, who was eight at the time of her ­disclosure.

It would take Abbey another decade to disclose that she, too, was assaulted by her father with her best friend on regular sleepovers. In 2005, her father was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison, released on parole after two years. Upon his release, the father was granted access visits with his children by the Family Court of Western Australia.

Court-ordered contact with her father left a pre-teen Abbey deeply confused, said her mother, seeding the anorexia and self-harm that plagued her teens.

“In my attempts to protect my children, I was treated as a hysterical woman by the Family Court, even though [the father] had been charged with child sexual offences at the time,” Abbey’s mother said. “I was made to look like a vindictive wife instead of what I was, a protective mother.”

In December 2010, Abbey penned a letter to her father begging him to acknowledge his abuse.

“I cannot believe that my own father would lie to me for my whole life and just pretend like everything is OK,” she wrote.

“I will not wait any longer for my psychopathic father to tell the truth, I have already given you more than 10 years … I can’t think of anyone who hasn’t been destroyed by your lies.”

Upon her disclosure, Abbey was assessed by police and Western Australia’s Department of Child Protection, who later sent a letter to Abbey’s mother stating:

“The investigation has found that there are reasonable grounds to conclude that Abbey has been harmed and it is likely that [Abbey’s younger sister] has been harmed. “The investigation has also considered who may have harmed Abbey. The department has assessed that [Abbey’s father] has harmed Abbey and is at risk of harming [Abbey’s younger sister] if they were to have unsupervised contact.”

That letter, however, was sent 10 days after Abbey’s death.

“I am very upset this letter came after Abbey’s death,” Abbey’s mother told The Weekend Australian. “I believe it would have helped if Abbey had received something like that showing that a person in an official capacity believed her, but nothing came before she took her life. It was very insensitive. The letter did not even acknowledge Abbey’s death.”

The Weekend Australian forwarded a detailed history of Abbey’s mother’s hellish journey through the courts and various government departments to Western Australia’s Minister for Child Protection, Helen Morton.

“My heart goes out to [Abbey’s mother] and her family over what is an incredibly tragic situation,” Ms Morton said. “I was greatly saddened when I was told last year about the circumstances related to Abbey’s death.

“It is through the courage and bravery of people such as [Abbey’s mother] that informed and considered improvements can be made to practices and policies ­regarding child safety and wellbeing.”

Abbey’s mother called on the West Australian government to launch an inquest into her daughter’s death.

Meanwhile, national child protection advocate Bravehearts has launched Abbey’s Project in her daughter’s name, calling for and currently recording exhaustive statements from Australians who have experienced “instances where deficiencies in the Family Court practices, policies and procedures have resulted in children being assaulted and placed at serious risk of sexual harm”, culminating in a report to be submitted to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Assault.

Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston hopes Abbey’s Project will kickstart a broader inquiry into the operations of the Family Court of Australia.

“Every week in Australia, the Family Courts are ordering children into contact with, and even into the custody of. parents who are dangerous, toxic and abusive because Family Courts do not have the powers, expertise, and resources to competently investigate allegations of child abuse,” she said.

Abbey’s best friend is now an 18-year-old university student still processing the “agony and confusion” she faced as an eight-year-old trying to convince sceptical authorities of Abbey’s father’s abuse.

For information on Abbey’s Project and how to make submissions to the royal commission, visit