Girl (10) alleges horrific abuse involving more than 12 people, High Court hears
AN “incredibly vulnerable” girl alleged to have been subject to “devastating” sexual abuse in her home by more than 12 local individuals before being taken into care in 2010 at the age of 10 has been made a ward of court.
The girl’s court-appointed guardian has raised serious concerns about why the girl and her siblings were not taken into care earlier as social work services were familiar with the family before the girl was born.
The case came before the president of the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, this week. Mr Justice Kelly said the case raised “serious” issues.
He made the girl, now aged 18, a ward of court and appointed the general solicitor for wards of court, Patricia Hickey, as the committee to represent her interests and vindicate her rights.
The judge told Ms Hickey she may to involve other statutory agencies in the matter.
Professionals involved in the girl’s care described her as an incredibly vulnerable young person who may be at risk sexually, socially and financially if she were to look after her own affairs.
On foot of psychiatric reports, the girl lacked the necessary capacity to manage her affairs and finances, the judge said.
He also made orders continuing her placement in a residential facility and permitting Ms Hickey retain the services of her guardian, who has been involved with the girl since she was taken into care in 2010.
It is believed, among the issues Ms Hickey will have to consider, is whether to initiate legal action over delays in taking the girl into care.
After she was taken into care in 2010, the then 10-year-old girl named more than 12 individuals in her local area whom she alleged she had sexual intercourse with before being taken into care.
She alleged those persons came to her home when her mother was present, and she was abused in her bedroom.
A younger brother also made disclosures of sexual abuse of him by family members.
After making the disclosures, both children were referred to a sexual abuse unit which assessed them and concluded their allegations were credible.
The girl’s guardian has expressed the view, had the relevant authorities acted earlier on the concerns about the family, “much, if not all, of the abuse, neglect and trauma the girl has suffered could have been avoided”.
Criminal proceedings have been initiated against the girl’s mother and maternal grandfather relating to the time before she was taken into care.
The girl’s parents separated some years before she was taken into care and her father left the family home. Her guardian said social work services were familiar with the family before the girl was born.
A child protection conference had concluded in 2002, when the girl was two, there was a high level of concern about the family and it was agreed a core group of professionals would visit daily.
Concerns were at a “very high” level and the view was subsequently taken that community supports put in place for the family were not making a difference, the guardian said.
The father left the home when the girl was aged four and, while family supports continued to be provided, concerns about the mother’s ability to manage and safely parent the children continued and increased, she said.
The concerns included hygiene, school attendance, the children’s behaviour and harassment and quality of care in the home.
In 2010, a child protection conference concluded, for reasons including the girl’s hygiene, school attendance and her being bullied and isolated, the situation could not continue. The girl and her siblings were then all taken into care.
The guardian believed there was an “apparent pattern” of professionals observing concerns about the family, putting supports in place and, when it was later acknowledged the supports were not effective, “nothing was done”.
It was known the mother had certain difficulties and limited supports of her own, the guardian said.
Several months after being taken into care, the girl and one of her brothers made disclosures of alleged sexual abuse while they were living with their mother and older siblings.
The girl was in foster care for some years before being moved to a residential facility where she remains.
Her case came before Mr Justice Kelly via an application to make her an adult ward of court due to the fact she was about to turn 18 and there were serious concerns she lacks capacity to make decisions in her best interests.