14-year-old girl 'should have complained' about assault

A 14-year-old girl at the John Oxley Youth Centre should have complained about an alleged sexual assault in the 1980s, the centre's former manager told a child protection inquiry on Tuesday.

The alleged assault has been central to two decades of claims of sexual abuse at the centre, which spawned accusations that the incoming Goss government shredded evidence gathered during the Heiner inquiry in 1989-1990.

Retired magistrate Noel Heiner headed the short eight-week inquiry.

No evidence of any sexual abuse allegations were made to the Heiner inquiry.

Former John Oxley Centre manager Peter Coyne told this week's Carmody inquiry he never discussed the May 1988 sexual assault allegation with Mr Heiner, but rejected any suggestion the issue had been covered up.

Extensive documents about the issue have been tabled as exhibits this week for the first time.

Mr Coyne described the allegation of ongoing sexual abuse at the centre as "ridiculous" and a "storm in a teacup", exaggerated by whistleblower and former union official Kevin Lindeberg over several inquiries.

However Mr Coyne said he still believed the 14-year-old girl was sexually assaulted and was disappointed when no complaint was made to police.

"I certainly wanted her to make a complaint if she had been sexually assaulted," Mr Coyne said after several hours of cross-examination.

"And I didn't think that was something where a decision (not to make a complaint) should be made by a 14-year-old girl."

Barrister Michael Bosscher, for Mr Lindeberg, said to Mr Coyne: "I don't think there is anyone in here today that will disagree with you."

Mr Coyne, now a corrections officer, said he felt "hurt and humiliated" after being seconded to "special projects" after the Heiner inquiry finished in February 1990 and shifted to a desk with no duties to perform.

He said he simply wanted to be able to answer the allegations against him during the Heiner inquiry.

"I am not the best manager in the world. I am far from the worst," he told the Carmody inquiry on Tuesday.

However he rejected suggestions from Commissioner Tim Carmody that constant memos to senior public servants in his department were an attempt to leave a "paper trail" when his requests for copies of complaints made against him to senior public servants were unanswered.

"I agree it was rapid fire and a bit of a shotgun, but I felt hurt," Mr Coyne said.

"It became clear to me that with the change in government, there wasn't going to be any real meaningful work."

Counsel assisting the inquiry Michael Copley also stepped Mr Coyne through the series of legal approaches by his solicitor Ian Berry, now a state MP, to senior public servants about the destruction of the Heiner documents.

Mr Coyne still believes he did not receive natural justice – being able to answer his critics – and Mr Berry in 1990 agreed.

Mr Coyne wrote to the State Archivist, who had the responsibility to destroy the documents, on May 17, 1990, again looking for documents gathered by Mr Heiner.

The letter says in part: "My solicitor (Mr Berry) and I have legitimate requests for a copy of these documents.

"The director-general is still seeking legal advice and has been fully aware of the possibility of legal action."

Documents gathered under the Heiner inquiry were shredded on March 23, 1990, however no legal action had started, Mr Copley told the inquiry.

This story 14-year-old girl 'should have complained' about assault first appeared on Brisbane Times.