A charity that helped victims of sexual abuse claims it was found guilty yesterday of “institutional child abuse”.
The Lion Charity, founded in 2006 by Dr Peter Firth, was accused of failing to properly monitor the care of abused children and failing to provide proper safeguarding to its staff.
Mr Firth’s charity has been accused of “systematically failing” to monitor the abuse of children in its care.
It has been found guilty by a court in South Australia of three charges of failing in its duty to protect children in the care and custody of the charity, which is also known as The Lions.
The charity was found to have failed to adequately monitor children in care and in the custody of its staff and failed to protect them.
Mr Justice Patrick Jorgensen found that the charity failed to act effectively as a “community and family” organisation.
The case centres on a number of children, who had been in the organisation’s care, and the carer who worked with them.
Dr Firth said his charity did not have the resources to monitor its staff, nor to protect the children.
He said he did not know why there was a high risk of child abuse.
The judge said he was satisfied that the children were abused by staff.
“I am satisfied that at least one child was sexually abused by one staff member, which was the case in this case,” he said.
The children had been abused by at least two staff members.
The Lion charity has previously been charged with failing to act on child sex exploitation offences involving its staff in South Africa, South Australia and Queensland.
Mr Jorgenson also found that The Lion had breached the Mental Health Act by failing to protect vulnerable young people.
“There was no evidence of a mental health issue involved in the child’s care and the children’s treatment,” he noted.
Mr Hetherington said the Lion charity was “the only charity in the country” to have a dedicated “safe place” for abused children.
“The lion is the only charity that is in the world that has that safe place and it is not just the people who have that safe space, it is also the staff, it’s the people that come to visit the place, it would be the people visiting the lion,” he told ABC Radio Adelaide.
“It’s not just people who come to see the lion, it was the staff who came to see what the lion is about.”‘
Very disappointed’The judge told the judge that the allegations against the charity were “very disappointing”.
“The child who has come forward is a very vulnerable child and I don’t think it is appropriate to be prosecuting someone who has only just come forward,” he added.
“This is an extremely disturbing case, and I am very disappointed that the child has had to go through what she has had, and it’s just the kind of child that we need to be dealing with.”
The court heard the children had not reported any problems with the staff to the authorities, and had only spoken to staff via text message and phone.
“They have made no effort to protect any of the staff members from harm, or to protect themselves from harm,” Mr Hetheringham said.
“And I think that’s the problem.
They have not done anything to protect their own children, to protect one of the young children from harm.”‘
An incredibly brave and talented’The court also heard the charity had not taken any action to stop staff from abusing children and that there was “an element of a culture of entitlement” at the charity.
Mr Nolanda said the charity’s management was “very proud” of its work and that its staff were “one of the most highly regarded and admired organisations in the nation”.
“This case is a wake-up call to all of us, particularly as we look to the future,” he wrote in a statement.
“We are committed to ensuring that all children are protected and the Lion Foundation remains committed to doing so.”‘
A huge disappointment’The Lions charity has denied the allegations, saying it “has no tolerance for child abuse and we are committed not to the slightest contact” with staff.
A statement from The Lions said it had apologised to the victims and would “take the necessary steps” to ensure “that this never happens again”.
“We will be making a full response to the court as and when it makes its decision,” the statement said.