Child Sexual Abuse Victim Was Told Prosecutors Didn't Have Time, Money to Pursue Case
By Nicole Chettle
March 17, 2016
It is "inconceivable" that a survivor of child sexual abuse was told by the Queensland Department of Public Prosecutions it could not afford to pursue a trial against a convicted sex offender, the organisation's director has told a royal commission.
Abuse survivor Denis Dodt told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse he was urged not to proceed with a case against Graham Noyes, who abused him at Enoggera Boys' Home in Brisbane in the 1960s.
But the current Queensland Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Michael Byrne QC has told the commission it was "inconceivable to me that any prosecutor would have ever told a victim that we don't have the time to conduct a trial".
The commission heard that 14 people had come forward to say they were assaulted by Noyes, who was a trainee police officer and volunteer at the home at the time.
Mr Dodt described abuse so severe he would sometimes "blackout".
"Other times he would orgasm on my body," he said. "I would dry myself with my bed sheets and then I would be abused and publicly shamed in the morning by the house parents for having wet sheets."
Mr Dodt said on one occasion four boys decided to report Noyes to the house parents at the school.
But the first child was accused of lying. "We heard the boy being yelled at by the house parents," Mr Dodt said.
"We also heard him being physically belted. When we heard these things we all became very scared and ran away."
Victim felt like he was abused again due to DPP response
In around 1998, Mr Dodt made a statement to police and was told he would be part of a joint trial.
But in January 2000, Noyes' lawyers successfully argued to separate the 53 count indictment into 10 separate trials.
After being acquitted three times, Noyes was convicted in a fourth trial and sentenced to seven years' jail.
The trial involving Mr Dodt was due to happen next — but he said he was urged not to proceed by the DPP.
"The prosecutor told me that as the DPP already had one conviction against Noyes and it would be very hard to get another conviction for the same type of crimes," Mr Dodt said.
"He told me that they didn't have the money or time to put towards my case ... I felt like the prosecutor was encouraging me not to proceed with my complaints."
Mr Dodt said he reluctantly dropped the matter, but the department's attitude made him feel as though he had been abused again.
"I also felt that the DPP's approach undermined my credibility because it made me feel like I wouldn't be believed if the trial continued," he said.
Byrne says DPP has 'changed markedly'
When asked about what Mr Dodt was told at the time, Mr Byrne, who became the DPP in 2015, said the employee had not meant that the department did not have the money.
"But one of the issues that needs to be balanced is whether the spending of public moneys are justified in the circumstances," Mr Byrne said.
Mr Byrne said his department's attitude had "changed markedly" since the prosecution of Noyes.
"We've come a long way. I don't suggest we do it perfectly.
"I am very confident that the desire of the victim to be heard in a court of law ... would [now] be given more weight than it was 13 years ago."
The commission is considering whether group trials should be made available when a person is accused of abusing more than one child in an institution, like a school and heard overnight that allowing "bad character evidence" could see more child sexual abuse convictions.
Earlier this week, the commission heard group trials would result in more convictions for child sexual assault offenders and offenders had walked free because of the way cases were handled.
The royal commission has examined several other case studies, including child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, the Salvation Army and at music and dance schools.
Mr Dodt said splitting up the Noyes trials meant he "did not ever get my day in court to tell a jury what Noyes did to me".
"I was let down by the police, the DPP, the legal system and ultimately the Queensland government, which is responsible for our laws."
The hearing continues in Sydney.