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Abusers Protected

March 1, 2010 permalink

In Ireland the problem of child abuse by insiders is widespread. The (Dublin) Sunday Tribune reports that in just one region there were 33 complaints over three years, yet not one was prosecuted. Based on circumstances in other jurisdictions, child protectors and police cooperate at every level from the board of directors to the marital bed. The large number of conflicts of interest make prosecution of child abuse within the system impractical.



Foster care child abuse claims not prosecuted

Children in foster care have made repeated complaints of physical and sexual abuse in the HSE's Dublin north-east region over a period of three years, but none of their alleged abusers has been prosecuted, the Sunday Tribune has established.

In two of the most serious instances, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) opted not to pursue a criminal case despite HSE and garda investigations into the complaints and the removal of one of the foster couples concerned from the HSE's fostering register.

At least seven other allegations of physical or sexual abuse were also noted as "confirmed" following investigation by the HSE's own childcare experts. But none led to a criminal prosecution or conviction.

The revelation has prompted the Children at Risk in Ireland (CARI) charity to express concern that the alleged offenders may be free to continue their abuse.

HSE documents obtained by this newspaper reveal that the HSE's Dublin north-east region alone received 33 complaints of physical or sexual abuse from children in foster care between 2006 and 2008.

Yet despite the HSE's own assessment that allegations of "contact of a sexual nature by a foster father" received in 2008 were "credible" – prompting it to state that the foster carers were "no longer fostering for the HSE"– the DPP decided not to prosecute.

In a separate 2007 case, the HSE investigated an allegation by two children that they had been subjected to physical and emotional abuse by their foster mother.

"A previous child made allegations of sexual abuse by the foster father," the response notes.

However, although a social work investigation and a garda investigation of the other child took place, the DPP again decided not to prosecute.

The seven additional "confirmed" complaints included a 2007 allegation where a child alleged sexual abuse by a 17-year-old male friend, and another allegation where a child alleged sexual abuse by a foster sibling.

It also includes a 2008 allegation in which a child complained of physical abuse by an uncle, and another where a child alleged that their mother hit them.

In 13 other instances, the status of the complaint is listed simply as 'Social work investigation completed', with no other information provided.

However, the response states that none of the 33 complaints led to a prosecution or conviction.

A spokeswoman for the DPP declined to comment on individual cases.

A HSE spokeswoman said that, where an allegation of sexual abuse is made by a child, a full risk assessment is undertaken, including notification to gardaí.

Dr Niall Muldoon of CARI said the cases once again highlighted the urgent need for a constitutional referendum on children's rights and more vetting of foster carers.

He added that the complaints also show that the abuse portrayed in the recent Ryan and Murphy reports is by no means a thing of the past.

"The majority of children we would work with who make a complaint would be focused on ensuring this doesn't happen to anyone else. But we can't be sure this is not happening," he said.

Source: Sunday Tribune (Dublin)