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New book - Broken Silence

New book - Broken Silence

Allegations ACC continued to refer clients to a therapist who had been the subject of five sexual abuse complaints surface in a new book to be released this week.

Foxton writer Anne Hunt says these allegations heighten concerns that Government policy is to protect sexual abusers rather than potential victims.

Her book "Broken Silence" documents the case of a Wellington woman who accused a senior health professional of raping her during therapy. Her civil claim for exemplary damages was eventually settled out of court, but the health professional had earlier been granted permanent name and occupation suppression following his acquittal on nine criminal charges including three counts of rape. A complaint to the professional's disciplinary body lapsed due to procedural irregularities.

"When interviewed by the Police, a former ACC supervisor referred to five other sexual abuse complaints against this health professional.

"This admission suggests ACC is under no obligation to protect sexual abuse victims from further abuse during counselling" Mrs Hunt says.

"Australians hounded their Governor-General out of office for failing to protect vulnerable people within his church, and this situation is equally scandalous.

"People receiving counselling authorised by ACC are entitled to feel safe in a therapeutic environment, and this is possible only if there are procedures in place to handle complaints brought to the attention of ACC staff."

Under the lump sum payment arrangements recently re-introduced for sensitive claims, there is no requirement for the claimant to identify the offender.

"Treating sexual abuse as a sensitive issue may spare victims the trauma of a trial, but unless victims are prepared to give evidence in court, sexual abusers remain free to offend again.

"By encouraging victims to seek counselling and compensation from ACC, it is the law-abiding citizen financing ACC levies who pays the penalty for sexual abuse, not the offender. That surely is sending the wrong message to society."

Anne Hunt

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