Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry News and Updates


The Brisbane Times

Abuse 'swept under the carpet' for years

December 6, 2012 - 12:01AM
Tony Moore

Tony Moore senior reporter

Sexual abuse at the John Oxley Youth Centre was "swept under the carpet" for years, a former employee has told the Carmody Inquiry into child protection.
Daniel Lannen, who worked at the Wacol centre from 1987 to 1999, also told the hearing he had concerns about children as young as 11 being handcuffed, medicated and victimised.
He said he was very upset by the "standard practice" of handcuffing children to fences and with their "hands over their heads".
Mr Lannen said, in some instances 20 years ago, children were being handcuffed to tennis court fences overnight at the centre.
He said then-centre manager Peter Coyne held secret files on staff members. Mr Coyne is yet to give evidence.
Mr Lannen's police statement was yesterday read out by lawyer Michael Bosscher, who is acting for whistleblower Kevin Lindberg at the hearing.
Retired magistrate Noel Heiner and former Children's Court employee Barbara Flynn carried out interviews during 1989 and 1990 for the Heiner Inquiry into the management of the Wacol facility.
His statement reads in one section: "I don't recall telling Barbara anything about sexual abuse, however I believe I would have spoken about this as it concerns me."
After clarification by Commissioner Tim Carmody, Mr Bosscher again asked Mr Lannen about his memory of sexual abuse allegations.
Mr Carmody said one sexual assault took place in 1991, after Mr Heiner had finished the inquiry and Mr Coyne had left the centre.
Mr Bosscher asked Mr Lannen again: "There are a number of instances of sexual abuse that occurred the John Oxley Youth Centre that you are aware of?"
Mr Lannen: "Yes."
Mr Bosscher: "At least one of them you recount in your statement that occurred at a time when Peter Coyne was the manager and prior to the Heiner Inquiry taking place?"
Mr Lannen: "Yes".
Mr Bosscher: "You recall telling Barbara Flynn about child sexual abuse that occurred at John Oxley Youth Detention Centre, but you don't recall specifically you told her about?"
Mr Lannen: "I don't recall specifically talking to her about sexual abuse, but I believe I would have spoken to her about it."
One incident is outlined in his statement, which will be made public this morning after names are redacted.
Ms Flynn told the inquiry on Tuesday that it was "totally untrue" that allegations of sexual abuse had been raised in Heiner Inquiry interviews.
Mr Lannen said he also provided a tape-recorded statement to staff of the Criminal Justice Commission before the Forde inquiry started in 1998 about the John Oxley Youth Centre.
He said he could not remember what his statement included, but he said he was surprised he was not called to give evidence at the Forde Inquiry, overseen by former Queensland Governor Leneen Forde "because I was bringing all these things to light".
Mr Lannen said "nothing was done" about allegations of sexual abuse, handcuffing of juveniles and medication of juveniles.
"Can I say that if things were done, I would have known about it," he said.
Commissioner Carmody said to Mr Lannen: "You assumed nothing was done, because if it had been, you would have known about it."
Mr Lannen: "Yes."
Counsel assisting Michael Copley asked Mr Lannen if he was aware that the mother of a young girl who was allegedly raped was called to the centre after the incident in May 1988.
He also asked if he was aware that female police officers came to the centre to speak with the 14-year-old girl after the incident.
Mr Lannen said he was not aware those steps had been taken.
"Taking those types of steps would not be consistent with sweeping it under the carpet, would it?" Mr Copley asked.
"Correct," Mr Lannen responded.
At the hearing yesterday, retired teacher Gordon Cooper told of an alleged sexual assault of a girl on a 1988 excursion to Mt Barney.
Twelve further witnesses are expected to be called today.
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