Fourteen Aboriginal women who were bashed and raped in a NSW-funded children’s home have received their third apology in two weeks for the legal anguish inflicted on them when they asked for help.
Evangelos Manollaras, the solicitor asked by the Crown Solicitors Office (CSO) to manage the civil claim brought by former Bethcar residents, added his “sorry” to that of his boss, Crown Solicitor Ian Knight and secretary of the social services department, Michael Coutts-Trotter.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has heard the Department of Community Services (DoCS) and police took no action in the 1970s and `80s when children at the Brewarrina foster home complained of abuse.
The Bethcar survivors sought compensation and an apology from the state in 2008 and were put though a legal mill which breached rules of fairness and added to the women’s suffering.
The civil case was drawn out by the state for more than five years and only settled earlier this year.
It cost NSW $3.7 million.
On Friday, Mr Manollaras was recalled to the witness stand to explain how the state withheld evidence from a district court in February 2012 when it tried to get the case struck out.
The state used affidavits sworn by private investigator Peter Maxwell, which only told half the story about witnesses – failing to mention some relevant ones had been found.
Mr Manollaras, now retired, said on Friday there was no intention on his part to deceive the court.
He said he now realised he had a “duty of candour” to present the court the whole position and not just present an affidavit listing unavailable witnesses.
Mr Manollaras then offered an apology for not taking a more conciliatory approach with the litigation which might have resolved it “a lot earlier and they (the women) would have been spared some of the anguish they suffered having to re-tell their experiences”.
On Thursday, Crown Solicitor Mr Knight apologised to the plaintiffs for numerous breaches of the model litigant policy including asking them to prove the abuse the state already knew had happened.
Last week Mr Coutts-Trotter said he was ashamed at what the plaintiffs had been put through.
The commission will meet again in November when it will hear again from senior counsel Michael Cashion, who argued the prejudice case for the state.