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Then-NZAF chair defends handling of allegations

Sun 28 Oct 2012 In: New Zealand Daily News

Mark Henrickson 4.40PM: The AIDS Foundation's response in 2009 to accusations that one of its Wellington-based counsellors was engaging in inappropriate sexual with a client was "immediate and robust" according the then-chair of the organisation. Two indecent assault charges against ex-NZAF counsellor Silipa Take, relating to his time as an employee of the Foundation were revealed late Friday morning when he appeared in the Wellington District Court. Mark Henrickson was the NZAF Trust Board chair at that time and therefore the most senior person at the organisation. He says he was told about the allegation by the then-Executive Director, although the NZAF on Friday advised GayNZ.com Daily News that the chair had not been told. "The incident is inexcusable and deeply regrettable," Henrickson said today.  Shedding more light on the NZAF's response to the 2009 allegation, Henrickson says "a senior staff person of the NZAF was contacted by an Awhina client with a complaint of abuse, and that staff person acted on the complaint immediately, following established procedures. As a part of the investigation the organisation sought legal advice. I believe the organisation also contacted the police, who, since the complainant was an adult and was unwilling to be named, could not do anything." Henrickson says senior NZAF staff met with the accused staff member and his union, and the staff member "chose to resign forthwith." He says the client was "satisfied with the NZAF's response and did not wish to pursue the issue any further. Since the client did not wish to be named, there was nothing further that could be done at the time." "I am satisfied," Henrickson says, "that the organisation's response was immediate and robust." Henrickson's comments are at complete odds with current CEO Shaun Robinson's view of the way the NZAF's senior management, all of whom have since moved on from the NZAF, handled the matter in 2009 “With the wisdom of hindsight stronger action should have been taken with regards to the alleged perpetrator and the NZAF should have done more to investigate whether other clients had been affected,” Robinson said on Friday. “These were mistakes and we apologise for them."    

Credit: GayNZ.com Daily News

First published: Sunday, 28th October 2012 - 4:13pm

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