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Top child protection official cleared of assault on teenager

Magistrates’ Court (File photograph)

A senior child protection official accused of punching a teenager in her care has been cleared of all charges after a Magistrates’ Court trial.

Kennette Robinson, the assistant director of the Department of Child and Family Services, was found not guilty of assault and mistreatment of a 17-year-old girl in an alleged incident at the airport on May 8, 2019.

The girl, who was the subject of a care order at the time, cannot be identified for legal reasons.

The incident happened as the girl was being escorted on to a flight for treatment at a specialist centre in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Ms Robinson told the court she had reacted after the girl “lunged” at her and that she had turned and pushed her away.

Charles Richardson, Ms Robinson’s lawyer, said magistrate, Khamisi Tokunbo found that he was “not satisfied that the so-called assault ever took place”.

Mr Richardson added: “The magistrate made reference to the fact that there were several witnesses and none saw an assault.

“What the witnesses described was more like a restraining motion.

“Because Ms Robinson was, as a matter of law, in loco parentis because of a court order, and because of the way the girl was behaving in lunging at her, he found that she was doing what any reasonable parent would have done.

“It’s unfortunate that it happened at the airport and involved someone compelled by a court order. That made it more sensitive.

“But he emphatically cleared her of any wrongdoing whatsoever.”

Cindy Clarke, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said there was “no appeal planned at this time”.

The Ministry of Social Development and Seniors declined to comment.

Ms Robinson, 58, who denied the charges, was acquitted on May 21.

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