I am a 70-year-old woman who, in the late 1950s, suffered repeated sexual abuse from my father, as did at least one of my younger sisters some years later and two of her daughters in the 1980s.
In 2006, my nieces and I reported the abuse and in 2010 my father was found guilty of sexual assault on my two nieces, but not on me because of the passage of time and lack of evidence.
His jail sentence was suspended on the basis of a claim by him that my mother, who suffers mild dementia, is dependent on him for all her daily needs.
My father is a very domineering man who has never shown remorse for his abuse. He refuses to speak to us since the court case, and stops us seeing our mother/grandmother. I love my mother and desperately want regular contact with her in her extreme old age.
Could you please advise if there are any avenues by which my father, a convicted paedophile, can be prevented from stopping his victims having normal contact with their mother/grandmother.
It is clear that you and your family have suffered considerable pain. Unfortunately the prosecution of your father has rippled into your relationship with your mother, rather than providing you with a sense of resolution.
It is unclear from your question as to the current status of your mother’s dementia. If it is still only mild, then she might be deemed to have ‘mental capacity”. That would mean your mother is ultimately responsible for deciding who she sees. Although your father is domineering, there would not be any legal avenues available to force a situation that is against your mother’s will.
However, if the dementia has progressed, it is possible that your mother has lost mental capacity. In that situation there are two avenues for another person to make lifestyle decisions for her, including decisions about whom she sees.
The first avenue is via documents called an Enduring Guardian or Advanced Care Directive. If your mother prepared one of these years ago and appointed your father, then he is legally entitled to decide whom she sees. However, if you think he is using that power inappropriately, then you may raise your concerns with the Public Advocate and then possibly seek a determination from the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
The second avenue would only be available if no such document had been signed by your mother. In that case, a person or people concerned with her care, such as yourself or your father, could apply to the tribunal to become her legal guardian. The tribunal will consider who is the most appropriate applicant to fulfil that role and also care for her and make decisions, including whom she sees.
Given the difficult circumstances that you face, the Panel recommends you seek counselling from one of the services listed below. If you are considering an application to the tribunal then the Panel recommends you obtain legal advice regarding your specific situation before proceeding.
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