Fighting back - Children of God say life is hell since police took them
By Naomi Toy
Sixty-seven children from a religious sect, taken from their families in a dawn raid, claim they have suffered psychological injuries as a result and will never be able to forget the incident.
The children claim they suffer from nightmares, posttraumatic stress disorder and nervous shock after police and Department of Community Services workers took them from three homes belonging to the Children of God sect in 1992, and are suing the State for unspecified damages.
Many fear similar raids could happen again.
After a brief preliminary hearing yesterday in the NSW Supreme Court, their solicitor, Greg Walsh, said their case was that the children were unlawfully arrested and detained, and the departmental officers were negligent in their investigation of the case.
"They are claiming that they have suffered injuries as a result of the conduct of officers of the State of NSW," Mr Walsh said.
"We say that what the State did was wrong and they shouldn't have arrested these children."
In the early hours of May 15 1992, officers moved in on the sect's properties in Glenhaven, Kellyville and Cherrybrook, in Sydney's northwest.
They seized the children, then aged between about two and 15.
Mr Walsh said the officials were acting on unsubstantiated allegations that the children had been subjected to sexual and physical abuse.
He said the children were held for six days at three juvenile detention centres.
"They all say they were deeply distressed by the incident and that basically they will never forget what happened," Mr Walsh said.
"They were being kept under fairly difficult conditions, and in particular they were separated from their siblings and also weren't allowed to contact their parents.
"They were fairly distressed and pretty upset about the situation."
After a lengthy battle in Cobham Children's Court after the raid, the allegations of abuse within the sect were dropped.
Mr Walsh said the children alleged DOCS was negligent in conducting the raids and warrants taken out by police were unlawfully executed and unjustified.
The case would be significant as it affected the civil liberties or rights of children.
The case is expected to be heard next year.