Brody was a keen scout in the 1980s on the New South Wales central coast. When he was 15 a young scout leader from a nearby troop moved in close to Brody’s family home. David Lawson befriended Brody’s parents and got to know Brody through their scout connections.
Brody was struggling academically at school at the time and having trouble with friends and relationships. ‘So I was vulnerable’, Brody told the Commissioner. ‘I was picked on a bit and I think this man recognised that and that was part of how he worked.
‘He used to invite me over to do work on his house for small amounts of money. As the relationship went on longer … he’d ask me to stay back and offer me beers and get me drunk and then we’d get into wrestles. It was just to “test strength” and things like that. But he was older than me, a lot older, and always stronger, and he used to tire me, get me very exhausted and then he would sexually abuse me.
‘If I’d fallen asleep or had a couple of drinks, that’s when he’d abuse me. I’m not sure if he drugged me as well. I think back on it later as an adult and I wonder if he spiked my drinks. I couldn’t remember what happened the day before.’
Brody told no one about the abuse at the time.
‘I did not think my parents would believe me. I was ashamed. I thought my friends would make fun of me, all of those reasons. There’s a lot of reasons why I didn’t come out about it at the time.’
At the age of 30 Brody had an emotional breakdown and decided he needed to tell his story and try to find some resolution. Brody reported Lawson to local police. The experience with the police, police psychologist and the Department of Public Prosecutions (DPP) left Brody embarrassed, embittered and angry.
The police took Brody’s statement, but between the detectives and the DPP it was decided the case was not strong enough to prosecute Lawson. Brody was frustrated to learn that Lawson had prior convictions for sex offences, but none of them could count towards building his own case.
‘I couldn’t remember everything, dates and details, there was this suspicion that I was either bullshitting or making it all up. Which was even more disappointing and frustrating …
‘The police even had the audacity to suggest that I was too old to have been sexually abused. Because it happened around the time I was 15, I should have been aware of my sexuality by that age and stage of my life. Which is preposterous. When you’ve been groomed and abused in the way I was by this man … He preyed on me … and then to suggest I was too old.’
Brody was sent to a psychologist to ‘spill my guts and tell her all my personal things that had happened to me through David Lawson’. He found the experience re-traumatising.
‘It makes you think like it was your fault, like it was my fault that I’d let it happen to me. The fact that he’d forced me to have oral sex with him, he’d forced oral sex onto me so that I got accustomed to it and enjoyed it. So telling those sorts of personal things to a female psychologist and then getting nowhere with it was very, very hurtful. Very hurtful.’
The police insisted on talking to a few of Brody’s friends from scouting days who also knew Lawson. ‘I had to approach my friends about it and tell them I was trying to prosecute this man for what he’d done to me … and verbally disclose what had happened to me, to them. Now that was very embarrassing.’
Brody felt sure all his friends and acquaintances would soon know the story. It was the main reason he chose to move interstate to a remote area. ‘I couldn’t look anyone straight in the eye any more without the thought they were making fun of me in their head.’
Brody has lived a long way from friends and family for almost 30 years. He has had trouble with relationships all his life, but is determined to find happiness with his current girlfriend. Brody hopes the Royal Commission can help get his police case re-examined, so that he can finally put the abuse behind him. But for now the daily publicity around the Commission’s work are part of his problem.
‘I’m continually reminded of what happened to me by just what I do in my day to day life as I try to watch the news on the TV … sexual abuse, sexual abuse, sexual abuse. It’s very painful because I don’t have any closure.’