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Australian NSW Supreme Court approves a convicted sex offender to run a childcare business

Editorial Staff

In one of the most extraordinary results of a court case in recent memory, the New South Wales has ordered that a man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is to be approved to run a childcare business despite a conviction for sexual offences, a number of other reported alleged sexual events that did not result in prosecution and alleged domestic violence. Whatever happened to the basic "fit and proper" test?

The man was convicted of "serious" sexual offences when he was 15 years old. Later, during a two month period, he is alleged to have grabbed the crotch of a 23 year old woman, the crotch and breasts of a 29 year old woman and exposed himself to a 29 year old woman and pulled up her T-shirt, then grabbed her breast and asked her to perform a sex act upon him. In addition, the court heard, he asked a 15 year old girl to sit on his penis and entered a woman's car, without her consent, and grabbed her breasts.

When he applied for a "working with children" check, his history was revealed and his application was rejected.

He appealed and even more cases came to light including entering a woman's bedroom and pulling down her nightdress, the tribunal was told. The tribunal heard that he made racially abusive comments to at least two people, that he "groped" two police women and made lewd comments to a pensioner after grabbing her bottom.

In 2003, he was convicted of possession of cocaine and in 2004 he was fined for - wait for this - opening and operating a childcare centre without a licence.
There were also allegations of domestic violence after his son wrote a story about his father hitting him and reports said that he was violent to two former girlfriends.

The Tribunal found that none of this behaviour demonstrated that he posed a risk to children.

The vetting authority appealed. It's called "Tee Office of the Children's Guardian" and that is its function. It said yesterday that it could not understand why the Supreme Court would consider the applicant suitable to work with children but that its avenues of appeal were now exhausted and it had no alternative but to issue the approval.

Mr Justice Richard Button said that the man did not pose a risk to children and that the Tribunal did not make any error in law.

But there may be a further appeal process: the decision was made by a single Justice. It is possible that the authority could appeal to a full panel of justices.