Tasmanian Times

Integrity Commission Inquiries

Apology for wrongful dismissal

THE former head of the Sexual Assault Support Service has received a public apology for her prosecution over misconduct allegations.

Karen Donnet-Jones was dismissed and spent two years fighting five criminal charges after being accused of misusing her work credit card by paying a $25 parking fine and for pharmaceuticals relating to her worker’s compensation claim.

She was accused of stealing $1750 because she used the card to cover personal expenses.

Ms Donnet-Jones’s sacking came after she made a complaint about the support service’s board at its 2008 annual general meeting.

The court heard the money was almost immediately paid back and no concerns were raised until two years later.

The charges were dropped after police admitted they were inappropriate and a magistrate described the case against her as ridiculous and ordered her legal costs be paid by the prosecution.

The SASS Board of directors today published an apology saying: “The SASS Board of directors is sorry for the distress suffered by Ms Donnet-Jones and her family as a result of the police investigation and subsequent prosecution.”

Ms Donnet-Jones could not be reached for comment.

Mercury HERE

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13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. anonymous

    November 21, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    #1 is spot on, who has oversight of the Police? It is incredible that they are, in a democracy not responsible, yet carry so much responsibility. Anyone who has tried to make a complaint about the actions of a police officer is met with a bureaucratic stone wall, that subverts your right to complain. The Tas Police website has no direction to a complaint form, the complaint has to be made first to the desk sergeant, who will attempt to argue your complaint away, if you persist you are then directed to either a telephone that rings out or a further arguing senior sergeant, who promises to get back to you but refuses to even contemplate that a Police Officer will apologize.
    Imagine if you were dealing with Telstra, your bank or your neighbour and they stated from the start,’there will be no apology’. The arrogance of then dealing with Police investigating Police is part of the failure of the Police hierarchy in realizing who they are responsible to, certainly not the Public and certainly not the government.

  2. moo

    November 19, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    #10 Simon, Fear of reprisal rules in Tassie. It keeps people silent. A true corruption watchdog would have been all over this. We need an anti corruption body that is staffed by outsiders with no links to Tasmania whatsoever, is vigilant, willing to investigate without fear or favour and able to do this because it is backed by airtight legislation.This will never happen because the people able to make it happen have too much to lose. Alas, Tasmanians are lumbered with the TIC…. an anti corruption body that believes there is no corruption in Tasmania

  3. Kim Smorgan

    November 19, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Simon Warriner #10, that is a fantastic idea. We need records of who has been involved with what. A website would accomplish this nicely especially if based around the scientific journalism model used by Wikileaks to allow cross-checking of their leaks.

    Somehow the info would have to be conveyed in a legally-safe way as you can bet (those) who’ve been abusing public office will be agitating to have such a website taken off the internet.

    As a start, in relation to Karen Donnet-Jones, the ABC 730 Tas (Stateline) article mentions the names Annie Humphries and Kerry DeGrassi at http://www.abc.net.au/news/video/2010/09/03/3002383.htm?site=hobart

    >>>
    Former Family Court judge Michael Hannon had just become a board member of SASS at the time.
    It was agreed he would inquire into both sets of bullying allegations, but he resigned in disgust after a decision was made without his knowledge that board members Kerry DeGrassi and Annie Humphries would conduct the inquiry instead.

    In a letter tendering his resignation he’s said to have members of the board against whom allegations had been made by the CEO interview staff members who’ve made allegations against the CEO is contrary to natural justice and could be subject to legal challenge.

    He also said to have the brother of Ms DeGrassi, Michael Whittle, give advice to the board on procedure was not only a conflict of interest but contrary to natural justice.
    He finished by saying he could not be part of an organisation that didn’t act in accordance with natural justice in relation to its senior employee.

    The outcome of the investigation was a finding of gross misconduct and Karen Donnet Jones was sacked.
    <<<

  4. Simon Warriner

    November 18, 2011 at 11:47 pm

    re 6, Moo, perhaps what is needed is a place where the names of those responsible for this sort of garbage can be placed, so that the rest of us know who these people are an can be forewarned.

  5. Kim Smorgan

    November 18, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    #7: Well done Rick on catching that earlier version of the Mercury’s story. It really is highly interesting that they took out mention of the “death threats” bit. And why was it changed? At the request of the political or executive powers that be within our state?

    The words, “death threats” even seems to make Tas Times editor Linz flinch! Couldn’t get him to publish those words in earlier readers comments until reference was made to your caching of the earlier version of the article !

    I guess Tas Pol are particularly touchy about the whole Karen Donnet-Jones episode and can see just how persuasive it is when mulled over by the average Tassie voter! I recall one Tas Times reader commenting that they’d always regarded mention of Tassie’s corruption, with a grain of salt, until they read what Karen Donnet-Jones had gone through. It represents the chink in Tas Inc’s armour and we desperately need to follow through in busting up that armour, this decade rather than any later.

    Those who raise too much of a stink about Tassie’s corruption always seem to end up targeted by the state government and Tasmania Police. That really needs to change.

  6. Gareth Stebbins

    November 18, 2011 at 11:06 pm

    Karen D-J. — if you are reading these readers comments, “Friends” of the Tasmanian Integrity Commission (fotic2010@gmail.com) would like to hear from you. We just want to ask you to pass on the Tasmanian Integrity Commission’s response to your complaint, on to the Four Corners contact webform: http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/contact/

    The decades of intimidation against honest Tasmanians must stop. Together we can beat these bastards but we must ensure the information about what is going on, gets to where it needs to. Four Corners can embarrass Tassie’s media into having to cover the full details.

  7. Rick Pilkington

    November 18, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    Kim i’ve updated my blog today with plenty of good links on the Donnet-Jones story.

  8. moo

    November 18, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    The SASS Board is sorry…. Such a paltry apology seems calculated to add insult to injury, a mere twist of the knife. Very ugly. Why do the faceless ‘Board’ get off scott free? What of Lin Thorpe? What of the police officer who decided to proceed with charges? No doubt the TIC will ‘advise and educate’ them

  9. Pete Godfrey

    November 18, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    Sorry is not enough.
    How do you compensate someone for the harassment and stress of a two to three year investigation and the humiliation of being called a thief.
    This appeared to be a witch hunt from the beginning. It was more than smelly that the complaints against her were only prosecuted after she complained about the boards interference.
    Others have suffered similarly the same fate.
    To name a few, Julian Green (hope that is the right spelling) from the RPDC, was chair of the inquiry into the pulp mill and resigned because of inappropriate interference. So did Christopher Wright who replaced him.
    There have been many others, Bill Manning comes to mind, now he is described as a disgruntled employee. Disgruntled allright I would suggest that he was disgusted that the forest practices board refused to do their job and knobbled him at every opportunity.
    So Sorry to all those people, but the big question is When Will it Stop. And how do they get their lives back?

  10. Kim Smorgan

    November 18, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Re #3,

    Initially it seems the text of this online article said at the start, “A WOMAN cleared of allegations that she stole money from Tasmania’s Sexual Assault Support Service says she received death threats and that her children were harassed during the saga.”

    see http://www.themercury.com.au/article/2010/11/07/184411_todays-news.html

    A copy of its original text, mentioning “death threats” is on Pilko’s website:
    http://wwwtascommentary.blogspot.com/2010_11_01_archive.html

  11. Roy Moore

    November 18, 2011 at 11:40 am

    From memory, Karen has been emphatic that the actual extent of the harassment was much more severe than the Mercury and ABC were willing to describe.

    It would be great to know the full extent of how this was taking place in order to hold those ultimately responsible, to account. Hearing the full story directly from Karen is the most constructive way to proceed.

    Who can write her story down without the Tas media censorship, as a major contribution to advancing anti-corruption reform for our state police and government?

  12. Mike Standish

    November 18, 2011 at 11:05 am

    I just wish that Karen could be contacted by someone because it would be great to hear what the Integrity Commission’s response was regarding her late 2009 complaint to them. Surely Four Corners would find that TIC response substantive enough to conduct further investigation.

  13. Lee Smith

    November 18, 2011 at 11:03 am

    Jane Hamilton of Hobart 9.02 is quite correct in her comments here. Misuse of power should never be condoned,but in Tasmania it is an entrenched practice and is rarely ever exposed. The recent mysterious departure of our enigmatic integrity commission ceo perhaps could shed some light on this thorny issue ,but more than likely the matter will be hushed up. It only recently came to light for example that when the commission was established thee was a memorandum of understanding between police and the commission about the manner in which investigations would take place. That MOU effectively dictated the terms of reference for investigations and went even further in removing the impartiality of the commission by insisting police officers be seconded to the commission to conduct any police complaints, In short police placed their own guys inside the commission which was supposed to be this new broom with sweeping powers to investigate any matter without fear or favour..This is absolutely unacceptable ,nevertheless this is what was allowed to happen. Tainted from the outset and completely compromised it was inevitable that the organisation was always going to be just a paper tiger..Furthermore the cloak and dagger closed shop investigations laugh at the notion of openess and transparancy..It is no wonder complaints have gone down. Contrary to police claims however that complaints have gone down naturally it is more the case that citizens have no faith in the system and are simply saving themselves the headache and waste of time involved in these one sided investigations..In this case the SAAS board engaged, in my view, in vindictive pay back against a person who made allegations against the board and in so doing knowingly engaged in misuse of power. They should all be replaced as a consequence of this. but you can bet London to a brick that no action will be taken and things will roll along as if nothing ever happened.. Such is the way of things in Tasmania.

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