Dad vows to fight Starship slur

Sunday Star Times 27 May 2012
A stay-at-home dad accused of assaulting his baby daughter has been acquitted, again raising concerns about the way staff at Starship hospital’s child protection unit investigate suspected abuse. The Friday before last, two years after being accused of shaking or throwing his four-month-old daughter so hard she suffered brain injuries, David* heard the words he’d prayed for: not guilty. He left the Auckland District Court and joined family members at a nearby bar. Some time later, most of the jury walked in. “I thought, `oh no, is this supposed to happen?”‘ David, 38, told the Sunday Star-Times. Several jurors approached him, expressing anger at the way he had been treated after taking his daughter to Starship hospital in March, 2010. “They [the jurors] were wonderful people, they were saying how sorry they felt for us,” he said. It is the latest case to raise concern about practices at Starship’s Te Puaruruhau child protection unit. A Star-Times investigation in 2010 revealed concerns that the unit was acting like a police station, treating parents as guilty until proven innocent and mis-diagnosing accidental head injuries as assault. David’s battle is not over – he now has to convince Child, Youth and Family to let him have access to his two kids, including the girl, who has fully recovered. He has the support of his partner, the mother of the children.

…Mansfield said doctors at Starship had an important role in identifying, reporting and investigating abuse. “However as a community we must demand an objective response and not an emotive one. Parents who are likely to be reeling with their own emotions as a result of any injury to their child need to be treated reasonably, with respect and listened to.” He said suspicious injuries should be investigated impartially and fully by medical staff and police….David remains angry at the “bloody awful” ordeal he went through. He is particularly concerned that his daughter didn’t receive the standard of care and treatment she needed because medical staff were so focused on looking for further evidence of abuse.