Trust ‘ignored’ child abuse denials
Social services ignored the children of a Londonderry man when they insisted he had not sexually abused them, Belfast High Court has been told.
His daughter claimed the authorities refused to listen to their denials and instead subjected them to medical examinations from which they still suffer 13 years on.
The man, who cannot be identified, was investigated amid allegations that he was part of a paedophile ring.
He and his family are now suing Foyle Health and Social Care Trust for negligence in how it dealt with claims of abusing his own children.
During a two-week civil action he has accused its representatives of a failure to follow proper protocols and also alleged assault and battery against those who examined his children.
He was put under investigation after a teenage girl reportedly claimed in 1997 that he was involved in child sex abuse with more than 20 others.
Her accusations led to further allegations that he had abused one of his own sons.
The girl later retracted her statement of complaint, leading to his children being removed from an at-risk register.
Police inquiries resulted in no relevant charges being brought against him.
Cross-examining senior Trust representative John Doherty about events at the time, the man’s daughter said: “We spoke about (how) we weren’t abused.
“But we weren’t listened to, and then had to go through the medical examinations.”
Focusing on her complaint, the judge, Mr Justice Gillen, described it as a fundamental point in the case.
“What she is saying is that the voice of the child was not listened to,” he explained.
“That this was played out at an adult level. That your Trust failed to listen to their voice before these examinations took place, after the examinations took place, and so on.”
Mr Doherty insisted they had been been attempting to gain access to the children, without any influence from their parents, to establish whether there was any abuse going on.
The daughter claimed they were still suffering from what they were put through by the authorities.
“We are still distressed now because of what happened,” she said.
But Mr Doherty contended that, according to an experienced doctor, the process was not normally harmful to children.
He stressed that access to the children had been denied, and rejected any suggestion that anyone in the Foyle Trust had made accusations against her father.
“Our responsibility is to investigate allegations, not to make allegations,” he said.
The man’s wife also questioned the senior civil servant, raising with him her difficulties in convincing social workers that the allegations were untrue.
“I’m the wife and mother of these children,” she said.
“I don’t know if it’s normal for a wife to stand up and say categorically, 150% I know my children had not been touched by my husband.”
Mr Doherty told her it was the Trust’s obligation under law to investigate serious abuse allegations.
He added: “It’s not for us to judge, our job is simply to satisfy ourselves in law that your children were not at risk.”
The hearing continues.