Foster father facing child abuse charge for 'massaging' boy
A FOSTER father accused of molesting a child had his carer accreditation approved by Child Safety three months after the abuse was said to have started.
A NewsRegional special investigation reveals the prominent Gold Coast businessman was charged in May with indecent treatment after he allegedly assaulted a boy aged under 12 "at a motel in Brisbane" and at his home.
It is understood the offending began in August last year and the man's carer accreditation was renewed three months later.
A source close to the case told NewsRegional the victim said he woke up to the man "massaging" his body.
The offending was flagged with Child Safety in March and the man was charged with indecent treatment on May 26.
It is believed he allegedly assaulted the boy at a motel and at his home on the Coast.
The accused man appeared in Brisbane Magistrates Court on August 21 and was bailed to reappear on September 18.
The man, who cannot be named, has fostered dozens of children since becoming a carer in September 2015.
The shock revelation about the 41-year-old businessman's alleged behaviour has outraged child safety campaigners and the LNP.
And it places even more pressure on Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman, in the wake of the alleged sex abuse and murder of foster child Tiahleigh Palmer in 2015 and the alleged murder of Joshua Migala in April 2015.
It also follows the death of Mason Jet Lee in June last year, the alleged murder and torture of Maddilyn Rose Stokes in May, the death of a Yeppoon baby in March and the jailing in May of a Gladstone foster father who sexually abused two girls in his care.
All of these children had been through the Child Safety process, with many believing the system failed them.
In August, a damning coroner's court review into child protection found major departmental short-comings and other agencies in the deaths of 18 at-risk children.
LNP Child Safety spokeswoman Ros Bates said the latest case of alleged foster carer abuse showed her counterpart Minister Shannon Fentiman and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk had not learned anything from Tiahleigh's death.
"It casts a dark cloud over the whole carer approval process," Ms Bates said.
"Labor has used secrecy and cover-ups to hide the ongoing crisis in our child safety system.
"Queenslanders deserve to know how this person was able to get approved as a carer in the first place.
"The lack of leadership and ongoing crisis in child safety is undermining the good work the many thousands of carers do every day to keep our vulnerable children safe."
Bravehearts founder and child safety campaigner Hetty Johnston said the system was failing children when it should be protecting them.
"These are the most vulnerable kids in our society," Ms Johnston said.
"We take them from the place where they are being harmed and place them with strangers."
Ms Fentiman said she ordered a review of the carer's file as soon as she was told about the allegation.
She said this carer was visited regularly and routinely.
"No concerns were raised prior to March 2017," she said.
"This matter was immediately referred to the Queensland Police Service and the department immediately moved to suspend his status as a carer.
"At that time the carer did not have any children in his care and no further children have been placed with him since this time.
"It is not appropriate to comment further as this matter is now before the courts.
"I am not going to do or say anything that could jeopardise those court proceedings."
A Child Safety spokesperson said "concerns" about the foster carer were raised with the department and they were relayed to police.
"When any sexual abuse allegations are made about carers, no children are placed with those carers until all investigations are completed," a department spokesperson told NewsRegional.
"The department works closely with Queensland Police on any criminal allegations with the safety of children always the top priority.
"As the allegations against (the man) are now the subject of criminal proceedings before court, it is not appropriate for the department to comment further."
The Queensland Family and Child Commission is investigating the state's foster care approval processes but it is not clear when the results of this will be made available to Queenslanders.
Speaking ahead of next week's White Balloon Day, Ms Johnston said the Child Safety needed to educate children about dangers they may face from adults.
"We need to educate these kids when they enter the foster system so they know what unsafe behaviour is and that they can report it to another adult."
The 21st White Balloon Day is dedicated to preventing child sexual assault and will be held across Australia on Friday, September 8.
FAILED BY THE SYSTEM?
Tiahleigh Palmer: The 12-year-old Logan schoolgirl was found dead in 2015. Her foster father is charged with her murder, one of her foster brothers was charged with incest and another foster brother and her foster mother were charged with covering up the alleged crimes.
Unknown female victims: A Gladstone foster father was jailed for nine years in May for the rape of two girls. The crime started when the children, who were in his care, were 12.
Unknown male 'victim': A 41-year-old Gold Coast businessman was charged in May with indecent treatment following the alleged abuse of a boy aged under 12.
Mason Jet Lee: Three people are charged over the death of the 21-month-old Caboolture boy in June last year. His mother, stepfather and a teenager are accused of his manslaughter. Twelve child protection staff were stood aside after a report found "serious errors of judgment" by workers who did not follow legislation, policy and practice before Mason died as well as "serious flaws" with management and supervision.
Maddilyn Rose Stokes: Maddilyn's parents were charged with the two-year-old's torture and murder after the two-year-old died from hot water burns in May. The child had been flagged with Child Safety.
Joshua Migala: Two-year-old Joshua was allegedly murdered by his stepfather in April 2015. Child Safety was aware of risks to the toddler.
Unknown infant victim: A six-month-old Yeppoon baby who died of injuries in Rockhampton hospital in March. It is not clear what caused the boy's injuries but the child and his family had been flagged with Child Safety