Vic: Abuse cover-up not being investigated by police; advocates Abuse
By Bianca Wordley

Australian Associated Press (wire service)

MELBOURNE, July 8th, 2004 AAP - An alleged Victoria Police cover-up of damning evidence naming key members of an organised paedophile network had not been investigated by the police corruption watchdog, anti-child abuse advocates claimed today.

Dr Reina Michaelson of the Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Program (CSAPP) and Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston, told reporters in Melbourne they had given authorities the names of eight victims and witnesses.

Dr Michaelson said the witnesses could name prominent members of the sex abuse ring and could detail events surrounding alleged abuse and the alleged murder of one of the victims but none had been interviewed.

A former Victorian Labor Minister, a veteran television celebrity and a prominent television producer were among the perpetrators allegedly involved in the network, she said.

She said the alleged network would meet at pre-arranged venues where children, aged between two and 15 would be ``supplied'' for lurid acts including child prostitution, photography and video sessions.

Dr Michaelson said she had provided the witnesses details in the form of an official complaint to the Ombudsman in July last year.

She said she did so with the understanding they would all be contacted and the abuse claims investigated thoroughly.

The complaint also included details of Victoria Police's alleged cover-up of prior complaints regarding the existence of an organised paedophile ring operating in the state since the 1970s, she said.

``The investigators were provided with the names of witnesses - names that would have allowed them to readily access the relevant files - as well as the dates of the previous reports made independently to the Victoria Police,'' Dr Michaelson said today.

In the meantime, the Victorian government-established the Office of Police Integrity (OPI) to investigate police corruption, which was then provided with the names.

``In spite of the commitments made to me, in spite of the commitments I relayed to the victims and witnesses who had put their faith in me to attempt, again, to pursue justice through the Ombudsman's office, not one of them was interviewed by the OPI,'' she said.

``Not a single Victoria Police file was requested or re-examined.''

Ms Johnston said there should be a royal commission into police corruption and child sexual abuse.
``If there is one state in this country that needs a royal commission into police corruption it's Victoria because these allegations are serious,'' Ms Johnston said.

She said the victims were ``credible'' and independent of each other with more than 20 having contacted advocates with claims of abuse involving the network.

``They (victims) are putting so much at stake. They are risking their lives, they believe, in telling us what's happened,'' she said.

``They are willing to talk to police, to tell them what's happened, and police don't want to know.

``All we are asking for is a proper thorough investigation. Why is is it so difficult?''

The group came forward in July last year in response to a report released by Victorian Ombudsman George Brouwer into Victoria Police's botched handling of four cases of child sex abuse.

The report came after Dr Michaelson provided police Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon with a dossier of child sex abuse cases in Victoria in 2001.

Victoria Police would not comment on today's claims. A spokeswoman said it was a matter for the OPI, but the OPI also refused to comment.

A spokesman for Victorian Police Minister Tim Holding said the claims had been fully investigated by Victoria Police twice and separately by the Ombudsman.

Spokesman Toby Hemming said the OPI did not think there was any basis with which to proceed with any further investigations.

``The matters have been fully investigated and found to be without basis,'' Mr Hemming said today.

``There is no need for a royal commission.''

 He said the Victoria Police and the Ombudsman had been ``getting on with the job'' of tackling allegations of corruption in the force.

AAP bw/dk/lma/sd

MARCH 4th, 2005 

by gaiaguys' Vivienne Legg



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