Department of Social Development admits sexual assault complainant called and told them newly hired staff member was under police investigation

The Department of Social Development (MSD) has apologized and backtracked on its insistence that it had no idea it had hired a staff member who was being investigated for rape and assault. It is accepted that the complainant, a client of Work and Income, telephoned her contact center to inform her of the police investigation and to seek assurances that her information was protected.

MSD hired Dean Francis Brosnahan in early 2020, after leaving his previous role at Oxygen Property Management in Wellington under a cloud, accused of inappropriately contacting a tenant, forming a relationship and then lying to him about having had a vasectomy. The woman became pregnant after which Brosnahan assaulted her and urged her to “kill the baby”.

The woman complained to Oxygen – Brosnahan left the company – and police began investigating in late 2019 but did not alert MSD when she requested a police vet.

Brosnahan pleaded guilty this year to an amended charge of indecent assault and a representative charge of assault, and was sentenced to community detention and community service. Things revealed that Brosnahan had also been investigated at his former job at the Department of Corrections, following complaints from three women of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior.

READ MORE:
* Police did not tell the Department of Social Development that their candidate was being investigated for rape
* The sex offender landed a job with the Department of Social Development, after quitting previous jobs, accused of rape and harassment
* The police investigation into the sexual assaults did not collect CCTV or fingerprints, and the key witness did not speak for six months

MSD’s regional manager in Wellington, Jamie Robinson, backed by Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni, had strenuously denied knowledge or the opportunity to find out about the criminal investigation into Brosnahan. The police vet had returned “incomplete”, saying information was pending, prompting MSD to reapply months later. In the meantime, Brosnahan was working.

The department learned of the allegations after Brosnahan’s attorney disclosed after he was charged with rape. Robinson previously said that “MSD acted on all information regarding Mr. Brosnahan as it came to it.”

However, the complainant contacted Things, revealing that shortly before giving birth and after learning of Brosnahan’s new job, she phoned Work and Income, fearing that Brosnahan might have access to her private information. She was still living in the property that Brosnahan had helped her secure, and she was worried about her safety. She revealed the police investigation.

Robinson confirmed that the details of that call had been located.

“We would like to apologize to [the complainant]. We can see from our notes that she called our contact center on March 18, 2020. The note on file says: “CL [client] says she was assaulted and is concerned about the privacy of her case.

The call was forwarded to the Integrity Team, Robinson said, who checked in this afternoon and confirmed that Brosnahan had not accessed his files. “However, no one came back to [the complainant] at that time to let him know.

MSD hired Dean Brosnahan as he faced a rape and assault complaint.

Christel Yardley / Stuff

MSD hired Dean Brosnahan as he faced a rape and assault complaint.

“Somebody should have come back to [her] to let him know that there had been no breach of his privacy. It must have been worrying for her not to have insurance on this. After [the complainant] recontacted in July 2021, I called her personally, given the seriousness of what she had raised, to assure her that her files had not been consulted by Brosnahan.

“Her comment about an assault by Brosnahan was not forwarded for follow-up with her, and it should have been. Had I been made aware of the assault allegation at the time, job counseling would have been requested to speak to Brosnahan and the police.

The complainant was unimpressed with the apology.

“I’m disappointed… I let them know what was going on, and I was afraid to update my contact details [of my new child] once I gave birth. About the phone call, she said she felt like Robinson was reading from a script: “There were no excuses, and all they said was, ‘no one who doesn’t. isn’t supposed to be on your file wasn’t on your file, and that’s all they would say.

Brosnahan met the complainant on a property tour she said she told him he made especially for her. She says that soon after he reached out to her on social media, saying they had already hooked up on a dating site. The woman said she had no recollection of it, but given Brosnahan’s power to be able to help her find a home – she was a single mother with one child at the time – she was friendly.

She agreed to have sex because he assured her that he had recently had a vasectomy. She didn’t want to have any more children. She grew suspicious the day after the meeting when he kept saying he was worried she was pregnant.

It was the first successful prosecution in the country of a person convicted of a sex crime based on a lie about a vasectomy – in April a man was found guilty of ‘stealth’ after removing a condom without her consent.

Following the publicity, Brosnahan’s victim was concerned to see comments online, where people suggested the child was not from Brosnahan. She had done a DNA test.

She said her life changed as a result of Brosnahan’s crime. She had been forced to stop working to care for her two children and was in debt. Although she was ordered to pay reparations almost immediately after the sentencing, Brosnahan took weeks to transfer the money, she said.

The complainant said she struggled with Brosnahan’s continued denials of the offense and lack of apology.

MSD’s apology was the second from a Crown agency in as many weeks, after the Correctional Service also apologized after documents relating to its investigation into Brosnahan disappeared after being misfiled.

Joel C. Hicks