WARNING: This article includes references to suicide which some readers may find upsetting. Reader discretion is advised.
A Tasmanian mother known only as “Kim” has given evidence to the Commission of Inquiry into the Tasmanian Government’s Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Institutional Settings about a paediatric nurse named James Geoffrey Griffin.
Griffin worked as a registered nurse at the Paediatric Centre of the Launceston General Hospital, on the Spirit of Tasmania ferry and at the Ashley Youth Detention Centre. He also worked as a massage therapist for children’s sporting teams.
Kim said that her then-teenage daughter “Paula” (name changed for privacy reasons) was admitted to the Launceston General Hospital in the early 2000s for an eating disorder. She was also struggling after she had been groomed by her 30-year-old high school teacher (who was later suspended from the school).
Kim had met Griffin several times before, so she was glad to see a friendly face when Paula was admitted.
“Jim was always a very friendly, outgoing, caring person and he just had that way about him that made you feel that you could trust him and that he was going to look after your child,” she told the Commission.
Paula spent two months in hospital and afterwards, she had regular contact with Griffin. He even invited her to barbecues and sleepovers at his home. He occasionally invited other members of Paula’s family, too.
In September 2019, Griffin was charged with a number of child sexual abuse offences. A month later, Griffin committed suicide. The Coroner noted that Griffin had made several admissions to police and a significant amount of child exploitation material was found in his home.
When Kim learned about the allegations against Griffin, she felt ill. Paula died in her early 20s and Kim will never know if her daughter was abused by Griffin.
“All these thoughts raced through my head that maybe these things, terrible things had happened to Paula and she’d never spoken about them. Maybe this contributed to all of the issues that she had throughout her life.”
“It’s just something that’s always going to be with me and I’ll always wonder. And I can’t speak to Paula about it and nothing will really be resolved for me.”
“You do have trust in medical people because they’re there to look after you and attend to you in a time of crisis… for me now to have to go to the hospital, it’s the last thing that I want to do.”
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Feature Image: ABC News