‘He had planted a seed into my life that was about to grow wild and take control.’
Alan grew up in Hobart and was made a ward of the state in the late 1970s. When he was 13 he was sent with his siblings to a state-run children’s home to the north of the city. ‘I was the kind of boy who did what I was told, when I was told’, Alan explained to the Commissioner. ‘I never questioned the authority figures in my life.’
One day the Superintendent of the home, Glen Richards, took Alan on a car ride into a secluded paddock. He began asking the boy questions about his attitudes to sex and whether or not he masturbated. Richards next told Alan to undo his pants. ‘He then proceeded to play with my penis and then my testicles.’ Afterwards Richards took Alan back to the home. The incident was never mentioned again, nor was the abuse repeated.
‘That day he taught me a very important lesson: that life is cheap, friendships are cheap, sex is cheap, and it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you don’t get caught.’
A short time after his experience in Richards’ car, Alan began to mimic the behaviour. Alan took another boy from the home, 10-year-old Terry, to a secluded spot. He asked Terry to undo his trousers. ‘I then pulled his trousers down to his feet. I then proceeded to play with his genitals just the way that Glen had taught me. This happened a number of times as the weeks passed.’ Alan also involved some of the other boys. ‘We would laugh at Terry as he stood there naked in the middle of the paddock with no idea what to do.’
‘I had learned at the tender age of 13 or 14 how to use and abuse people … I have had many sexual relationships since then, most of them with women. When I had quite easily finished using and abusing them I would move on to my next “victim”.’
Alan has had several failed marriages and now has no contact with his children. He has also had trouble with the law. ‘I have stolen, burgled, vandalised and assaulted.’ All of these difficulties Alan believes he can trace back to the trauma of his abuse by Glen Richards.
In the early 2000s Alan reported the abuse to Tasmanian police and included his own sexual bullying of Terry in his statement. At the time the policeman taking the statement asked, ‘Is this a statement or a confession?’ Alan heard nothing more from the police until several years later, when an officer called to apologise for ‘losing the statement in the system’. More complaints had come in about Glen Richards and police were investigating. Alan was told Richards had been questioned and had denied everything. Again, Alan has heard nothing more in the years following.
He is now more troubled by the memory of his actions towards the younger Terry than he is about his own abuse.
‘Even though I never sexually penetrated him I feel now that I raped and humiliated that poor boy. I cannot imagine the pain that I must have caused for him and for the people that have been involved in his life since.’
‘If I could have a wish, I would ask to meet him so that I could apologise and ask his forgiveness for the things that I did to him.’
‘And if he wants to bash me one, I’ll let him bash me one.’