Acquitted carers still labelled ‘abusers’

NZ Herald 10 May 2014
Two former Child, Youth and Family caregivers acquitted of assaulting boys in their care say they hold no grudges but are disappointed CYF still labels them as abusers.

Auckland couple Andrew John Hemara, 55, and Jenny-Lee Hemara, 51, were found not-guilty this week on charges of assaulting and ill-treating two boys, aged between 6 and 14, over a six-year period until 2010.

Many of the worst allegations against the couple, including that they made the two boys brush their teeth with a wire brush and run until they vomited, were dropped after the boys recanted key evidence.

But they were still accused of punching and kicking the boys and making one sleep outside with no bedding.

Soon after the verdicts were delivered in the Auckland District Court, CYF regional director Sharon Thom said: “While they were found not guilty of criminal charges in court, our own investigations into abuse were substantiated”.

Ms Thom said the use of physical force to discipline was never acceptable and the Hemeras would not be allowed to foster more children.