A former Department of Community Services (DoCS) case worker being sued by two victims of child sexual abuse has denied that she failed to protect them from their abusive stepfather.
Carolyn Quinn took the stand in the NSW Supreme Court to deny claims by sisters TB and DC that she did not act on their complaints about ongoing sexual and physical abuse.
The girls complained to Ms Quinn about their stepfather in 1983, when TB was 15 and DC was 12.
They allege Ms Quinn ignored their complaints that their stepfather was still abusing them and that she was negligent in failing to report the case to police.
But Ms Quinn told the court she would never ignore such disclosures.
“Because of the practice that I had and the ethics that I hold, I would never not act on a child’s disclosure,” she said.
The court heard Ms Quinn was a junior officer at the DoCS office in western Sydney when TB contacted her to complain about abuse dating back to the mid-1970s.
Ms Quinn reported to two senior DoCS officers and regularly consulted them about the girls’ case. She said the senior officers decided whether or not a case should be referred to police.
She said she kept in contact with the girls and did regular checks on their well-being.
“I would drop in unannounced to ensure things were going as they meant to be going,” Ms Quinn said.
“I would drive by and see whose cars were where, and I spoke with the girls on numerous occasions, including away from the parent.”
Under cross-examination by the barrister for TB and DC, Dr Andrew Morrison SC, Ms Quinn agreed the girls told her their stepfather had had sexual intercourse with them.
And she agreed TB told her he had placed his hands over her mouth to stifle her screams.
“You don’t recall asking them: ‘Is he still abusing you?’,” Dr Morrison asked.
“It doesn’t appear anywhere,” Ms Quinn replied, glancing at her notes of the statement she took from TB in 1983.
“I would have recorded a question that was asked.”
Stepfather had long history of abusing children
Ms Quinn agreed she interviewed the stepfather and he admitted abusing the girls. Their mother also confirmed it to her, she said.
She said the mother thought she had taken steps to protect them. The court heard this involved her telling the girls to “kick and scream” when she was out at night and asking the stepfather to attend counselling.
Ms Quinn agreed that from the outset, she knew the stepfather had a long history of sexually abusing children dating back to the 1960s and that he was, at the time, on bail for raping a 15-year-old girl at knifepoint.
She agreed that just weeks after the girls reported their abuse, the stepfather had moved back into the family home.
The hearing continues.