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Sep 152010

THE Queensland Department of Child Safety has refused for 18 months to correct a file that falsely accused a man from Toowoomba of being a rapist who was jailed for fathering his own grandchild.

The 64-year-old man was told by the department to prove he was not a rapist.

When he presented a certificate from the police service saying he did not have a criminal record and a DNA blood test showing he was not the father of his granddaughter, the department still refused to believe him.

The man was banned from having contact with his nine-year-old granddaughter, and she was not allowed to stay with him and his wife for holidays, which she had done for the preceding eight years.

The grandfather repeatedly wrote to Child Safety Minister Phil Reeves, his local state MP and former attorney-general Kerry Shine, and the Parliamentary Ombudsman – all to no avail. When The Australian contacted Mr Reeves’s office on Monday, it took just three hours to confirm the error and for a departmental officer to be ordered to contact the accused grandfather and apologise for the “inaccuracy recorded in the file”.

The file contained details of a criminal with an identical surname and first initial, according to department officials.

The accusation of being an incest rapist was discovered by the grandfather last year when he sought access to his file under Right to Information legislation. One document, from August last year, alleged the girl “was a product of rape and the father/grandfather is now currently in prison”.

The grandfather yesterday told The Australian he was “shattered” when he read the document and immediately questioned it with department officers but was told the file would not be altered.

He pointed out the obvious: he could not be the person in the document because he was sitting opposite them, not in prison.

“Finally the DCS complaints officer told me that I had to prove I was not a rapist and had not fathered my grandchild,” he said yesterday, breaking down in tears.

“So I asked the police to detail my criminal history – there was no history of crime – and my wife and I sold our caravan to get the $800 to pay for a DNA test which showed I was not the father of my granddaughter.”

“Yet despite having this evidence before them, until your newspaper contacted minister Reeves, nobody would do anything, and we were warned about going to the media.”

The nightmare began when the grandfather sought kinship carer status for his daughter’s two children. She had difficulty looking after them because she was the victim of domestic violence from a drug-addicted husband who is in prison for stealing.

The application by the grandparents was refused, with no reason given. Instead the two children were put in foster care for several months until their mother was again able to cope.

The mother of the children yesterday told The Australian it was “abhorrent” to accuse her hard-working father of rape.

“What this department has done to my parents is indescribable,” the mother said.

Yesterday Toowoomba police held the grandfather in the watchhouse for 30 minutes after saying they had received a complaint from his DCS case officer, Nicole Steele, alleging that he had threatened her in a telephone conversation with other staff.

“I made no threats and I refused to give a statement, so they let me go,” the grandfather said.

“The apology given to me by the department meant nothing. Why didn’t it come a year ago – and what about all the money it has cost me in telephone calls and running around. The least they could do is refund the $800 it cost for the DNA test.”

A statement released yesterday, said Department of Communities acting director-general Bette Kill “has apologised to the person in this case for an inaccuracy recorded in his file”.

“The department will undertake a review of the file and confidential information handling procedures to ensure an issue such as this does not happen again,” the statement said.

Tony Koch and Amanda Gearing

Sep 122010

The issues of child protection and domestic violence have been hijacked by politically motivated feminist cliques, according to a coalition of men’s groups.

The claim came after an ombudsman’s report found bureaucrats guilty of “unreasonable and wrong administrative action” after failing to correct false and misleading information that promoted the idea men were overwhelmingly responsible for domestic violence.

South Australia’s Office for Women presented erroneous statistics, such as 95 per cent of domestic violence involves a male perpetrator and a female victim, the ombudsman found. Raw data show that, overall, at least one in three victims are male.

Men’s Health Australia spokesman Greg Andresen said the SA Ombudsman’s report should make the Gillard Government think twice about rolling back the shared parenting reforms introduced to family law by the Howard government — which effectively guarantee fathers some level of access to their children in the event of marital breakdown.

“The picture seems to be emerging of offices of women around the country — who advise state and federal ministers — having taken deeply feminist lines on domestic abuse and child protection,” Mr Andresen said.

“These bureaucrats have a strong feminist perspective — and that’s probably appropriate for people concerned with women’s issues.

“But the problem is that when governments roll out programs relating to children, what gets rolled out is a program for women, not one that has equal regard for men and women.

“The conventional wisdom among these people is that the only perpetrators of domestic violence are men and the only perpetrators of violence against children are men.

“There is a wealth of research that shows that men are almost as likely to suffer domestic violence or abuse.”

Laurie Nowell, Sunday Herald Sun, 12 September 2010, Section 1, page 28.

Sep 062010

Carlotta Brett-PierceA New York mother beat her malnourished daughter, four, with a belt and force-fed her sleeping pills, a Brooklyn court was told yesterday.

Carlotta Brett-Pierce, who was arrested after her daughter Marchella Pierce was found dead weighing just 15lbs, allegedly gave the child bloody beatings after she crept out of bed at night for food. 

On September 1, the day before Marchella’s death, an enraged Brett-Pierce tied her daughter to her cot with a length of twine after she made a mess while getting a late-night snack, according to prosecutor Tracy Downing.

Marchella had bruises all over her body which were ’caused by blunt force’, the court heard.

It is also alleged Brett-Pierce force-fed the four-year-old sleeping pills to halt her ‘wild’ behaviour.

A witness is said to have told police that Brett-Pierce beat her weak and helpless daughter ‘repeatedly’. 

A plastic video case stained with blood was found at Brett-Pierce’s squalid Brooklyn apartment, the court heard. 

Brett-Pierce, 30, faces charges including assault and endangering the welfare of the child. 

If Marchella’s death is ruled a homicide, Brett-Pierce could face murder charges. 

Prosecutor Tracey Downing said: ‘The mother tied up the child because she would get up in the night and eat food… and make a mess.’

Pierce, who smiled at her mother when she was led into the courtroom, insists she is innocent.

Yesterday she told reporters: ‘I did not kill my baby!’

Brett-Pierce said she had checked on her daughter at 4am and she had been okay.

She found her ‘unresponsive and with cold hands’ at 6.30am and tried to revive her, calling 911 after 45 minutes.

Marchella’s father, Tyrone Pierce, said he found out about his daughter’s death at around 9am.

He added that she had been born prematurely, weighing just 1lb 4.6oz, and had been in four hospitals since her birth.

He said: ‘My sister told me that my daughter had passed and I rushed over there. I tried to go into the building to see what was going on. The officers grabbed me and told me I had to come with them.’

Court-appointed defence lawyer George Sheinberg said his client was ‘not charged with homicide. 

‘The autopsy did not indicate any kind of trauma… at this point it is extremely inconclusive’.

Brett-Pierce did not speak in court yesterday. She was bailed for $300,000 and is due back on September 9. Read more: