Two women who claim they were sexually abused by paediatric nurse James Geoffrey Griffin at the Launceston General Hospital while they were teenagers are suing the Tasmanian Government for damages.
Law firm Arnold Thomas & Becker lodged the claim in the Supreme Court this month on behalf of the women, and have foreshadowed further claims to be lodged regarding Griffin later this week.
The principal complainant said the coming months - including the Commission of Inquiry into historic sexual abuse allegations in institutional settings - would be challenging for victims and survivors.
"I want to acknowledge the suffering of every survivor and victim out there (including those no longer with us)," she said.
"We are embarking on a horrific, triggering journey with the Commission of Inquiry and the accompanying media coverage.
"Please know you are not alone. We walk this path together.
"Be safe at this traumatic time.
"I personally, look forward to providing extensive evidence to the Commission of Inquiry."
The writs filed in the Supreme Court allege that potentially dozens of complaints were made to the LGH - or the defendant in the matter, the Tasmanian Health Service - regarding Griffin's conduct starting in 1989, and then a series of complaints from 2009 to 2018.
It was alleged the hospital had failed to "undertake any or any appropriate investigation in relation to conduct of paediatric nurses at the Hospital towards patients", and had failed "to have any system or any adequate system for supervising and monitoring the welfare of children at the Hospital", among other alleged breaches.
Griffin - who died by suicide in 2019 - worked as a paediatric nurse at the LGH for 18 years. He had been charged with child sexual abuse and molestation offences across Launceston.
The first claim centres on a teenage girl who was an inpatient at various times from 2015 to 2018 for an eating disorder, when Griffin allegedly "groomed" her, referred to her as "baby girl" and his "special girl", and sexually abused her, including during medical check ups.
The girl was often heavily sedated for her anxiety and depression, the writ reads.
The alleged abuse also occurred over the course of four sleepovers at Griffin's houses in South Launceston and Legana, in Bridport, and at a motel in Burnie.
"On numerous dates the plaintiff is presently unable to recall, she complained to the nurse ward manager at the hospital about inappropriate conduct of Griffin, and requested a female nurse," the writ reads.
"The hospital did not accept the complaints or act on the request to remove Griffin's access to the plaintiff."
The second claim involves a teenage girl who was also an inpatient at the LGH for an eating disorder condition.
She alleges she was also groomed in similar circumstances to the first claim, with Griffin using the same names towards her, and then sexually abusing her at the hospital, his houses and again in Bridport.
"Griffin was forceful and intimidating, and told the plaintiff not to tell anyone," the writ reads.
The girl's mother claims she complained to the hospital about Griffin's conduct.
"In or about July 2018, the plaintiff's mother complained about the conduct of Griffin to the hospital," the writ reads.
"The (manager) responded that male nurses were just the same as female nurses. The hospital did not accept the complaints or act on the request to remove Griffin's access to the plaintiff."
The claims include reference to "at least nine formal complaints" made from 2009 against Griffin, and an "unknown number of complaints" made by hospital colleagues regarding Griffin's alleged "sexually explicit conversations with young teenage patients".
Damages claims will be detailed prior to the matter going to trial, should it reach that stage.
The writs outline how the hospital allegedly had no adequate complaints mechanism.
"The defendant's complete failure to monitor activities at the Hospital and failure to have any mechanism for the plaintiff to make complaints during her treatment as a minor at the Hospital constitutes gross negligence and is deserving of punishment," it concludes.
Arnold Thomas & Becker plan to lodge each claim separately, rather than as a class action, given the unique circumstances of each case.
National sexual assault support: 1800 RESPECT, Laurel House (03) 6334 2740 (Launceston), (03) 6431 9711 (Burnie and Devonport), Sexual Assault Support Service (SASS) on 1800 697 877.
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