State rapes former Barnardos counsellor

My friend Johan’s story is on stuff today – well a small part of his story.

There are a few bits I’d like to comment on…

A former Barnardos counsellor is trying to sue police and Child, Youth and Family for defamation after they contacted his employer about unproven allegations that he touched some girls he was counselling.

Johan Aarts, 46, of Rotorua, says his career was destroyed when Barnardos was told of the allegations in 2006.

He has been fighting to clear his name ever since.

But Aarts suffered a setback in his attempt to sue the Crown departments last week, when a High Court judge in Rotorua granted a temporary stay of proceedings, mainly on the grounds that the case was still before the Employment Court.

Hmm… it’ll be interesting to see if any charges result from that last paragraph.

Aarts has gone public with his story because he wants to send a warning to other men in counselling and teaching positions that police or CYF will contact employers even when investigations have found no evidence of inappropriate behaviour.

In 2006, two sisters, aged 12 and 13, alleged that Aarts had touched their legs, put his hand in one’s lap, cuddled them and put his head against theirs during domestic violence counselling sessions two years earlier.

It’s not clear if the children actually made these allegations – in fact the evidence that’s been released so far indicates that the Police and CYF made up these allegations after Barnardos decided to keep Johan on as an employee. One CYF document states “the children did not disclose any inappropriate behaviour”.

Aarts denied this, saying the only touching was the occasional pat of encouragement on the shoulder. CYF called police, who conducted an investigation.

In June 2006, Detective Matt McLeod wrote to Barnardos to say that, while there were “no disclosures from the girls in respect to criminal offences”, the girls had felt uncomfortable and scared.

He said police considered Aarts’ actions to be “very inappropriate” and he had warned Aarts that he needed to be careful about placing himself in situations where such allegations could be made.

Documents obtained under the Official Information Act by Aarts and his supporters show that CYF staff originally referred to Aarts as “the perpetrator” and the incidents as “substantiated sexual abuse”, until police advised that the alleged incidents did not amount to such. One internal document said: “It may be that he has not committed any crimes yet, but his behaviour has all the hallmarks of grooming and without a conviction and without advising any professional body, he could easily get a job elsewhere as a counsellor”.

CYF wrote to Barnardos, which it funds, reminding it of its responsibilities to protect children and asking what action it planned to take.

CYF said in the letter: “You will be aware that the police do not consider that Mr Aarts’ behaviour constitutes a criminal act, however this does not reduce the level of concern that CYF has.”

A Barnardos regional manager wrote back to say that Aarts had had regular supervision, no concerns had been raised about him previously and “like the police report, we were unable to prove any inappropriate behaviour took place. Johan continues to deny he has done, or would ever do, anything wrong”.

However, Barnardos no longer had confidence in “Johan’s professional boundaries” and his continued employment “could put children at risk”. Aarts was then sacked.

It was only after CYF threatened Barnardos’ funding reminded Barnardos of their responsibilities that Barnardos lost confidence in Johan.

Aarts took a case for unjustified dismissal to the Employment Relations Authority last year, but it was ruled that it was lodged too late. He appealed to the Employment Court, which will rule in March.

It took a long time to figure out what happened and there’s still more to figure out. State employees have been obstructive the whole way.

Obstruct… obstruct… obstruct… obstruct… obstruct… sorry you are out of time.

His defamation action also comes out of time, and he has asked the High Court for leave for it to be heard.

Crown lawyer Antoinette Russell said in submissions that if leave was granted, a qualified privilege defence would be run, which afforded protection to a person acting in good faith and without improper motive making a defamatory statement.

“There is a clear public interest in New Zealand police freely and frankly communicating with the employer of a counsellor who was alleged to have acted inappropriately towards children . . . and in CYF ensuring the bodies it funds . . . are meeting service standards.”

The Crown lawyer is arguing that what the Police say to your employer about you is “privileged” i.e. it should be kept secret from you. What the Crown Lawyer is arguing would deny people the opportunity to defend any accusations that the Police (or any state employee) made to an employer. Disgusting.

Aarts has been fighting for the release of the videotaped interviews with the children, because he believes they will show that the police did not provide an accurate account of what was said. Police have refused to release the tapes on privacy grounds.

The privacy grounds is BS. At one point Police National Head Quarters ruled that Johan could view the interviews then the Police District Commander prevented the viewing from happening. Now everybody is trying to prevent the viewing.

“Why is it that the police can contact my employer, make damaging statements about me, causing me to get sacked, but they don’t have to provide any evidence?”

16 thoughts on “State rapes former Barnardos counsellor”

  1. Reed, did you archive the original article?

    I hadn’t archived the original but fortunately I seldom close tabs 🙂 I’ve emailed you a copy. The story is also printed in the Sunday Star Times.

    Any theory as to why it has been taken down?

    I was surprised the story made it up!
    My theory is it’s been taken down to protect people.
    Some people involved should go to prison – many should lose their careers.

    I don’t know if this post is violating any suppression order.

    Should I take it down?

  2. Id like an email of it too please?

    As my friend has pointed out to me, this case highlights the damage done by social workers. Now remember they make a hype about confidentiality yet repeatedly break it in their line of duty. Their training often means that some come out with such a blurred vision that helping people and families becomes ‘fifty shades of bullshit.

  3. That’s a tricky situation for Barnardo’s and Aarts. Especially when one is working with young kids like that. Maybe one should always record a session in tricky situations. I hope it turns out all right for him as it does look like a stitch up and shows how easy it can be done. Most are probably to scared to even speak out about what really goes on in those departments. If you see him around tell him to give me a call and I handle the stress he is under while fighting the case, as I’m in Rotorua.

    “A lady came to me after she had been to ACC Psychiatrists, Psychologists and Counselors over a period of 4 yrs. A bus had hit her car and the trauma was preventing her from driving. 15 mins of psychosomatic healing , she jumped in the car, to her husbands amazement and has been driving since.”

    Kevin Owen
    Psychosomatic Healing
    Handling Trauma With Advanced Psychotherapy
    Handling the stress related to all illness.
    With a reduction in Mental and Physical Stress comes an improvement in health.

  4. Kevin
    False allegations are a known work hazard. It’s documented that Johan, or a colleague (I can’t quite remember the detail), requested some time prior to this problem that counsellor’s sessions be recorded to prevent false allegations but Barnardos refused.

  5. Lovelee Leigh

    Now remember they make a hype about confidentiality yet repeatedly break it in their line of duty.

    It’s funny… due to this case several people have watched the evidential videos – but Johan watching it would be a breach of privacy??
    It makes no sense – especially when you consider that the purpose of the evidential interviews was for them to be used against him in court. There was no expectation of privacy.

  6. Kevin
    “False allegations are a known work hazard.”

    Tell me about it.

    Behind the world wide campaign
    Although the forty-year assault against Scientology assumed large proportions, the source must be remembered-that small but influential circle of psychiatrists and their government stooges. Nor did the means change over the years: false allegations selectively planted in the media, then seeded into even more federal files as background “fact.”

  7. False allegations are a real problem in our society today.
    I understand that claims can be upheld by ACC even when the allegation is false, this is possibly a reason to make allegations.

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