Carey Luke's story

Carey believes, as a teenager, he was groomed for some time by his cricket coach.

‘I remember standing up … It was announced, at the end of the competition the best 11 players are announced, and I got [in] the best 11 players in the whole area … I don’t think I was happy about it … ‘cause there was always that thing in the back of my mind: “Why was I picked?”’

Carey grew up in country Victoria in the 1970s and 80s. He was a good sportsperson and, at the time of his sexual abuse, was vice-captain of his cricket team. Carey’s coach, Bob Walker, was a community volunteer. Walker had a habit of talking about masturbation to the boys. ‘It was like he was … putting that suggestion in your mind and making you think … it was alright.’ Carey recalls he would ‘try to block it out’.

When Carey was in his early teens, Walker told him they needed to attend a ‘coach meeting’. Carey wondered why he, as vice-captain, was needed but Walker insisted he was to attend.

After picking Carey up from his home, Walker stopped to make a couple of calls from a public phone. He then told Carey the other coaches couldn’t make it to the meeting and drove to his own home. After making more calls, Walker instructed Carey to sit in the living room, while he went out to check on his father who lived close by.

Walker put on a pornographic video, handed Carey a towel and told him that he didn’t mind if he felt ‘the need to masturbate’. Carey sat there. ‘Just felt lonely’, he said. ‘Looking over my shoulder, wondering whether someone was watching me … I had that feeling … through the curtains … [if] he was watching me and not actually gone to see his father’. Walker later returned and asked if he’d enjoyed the video. He then dropped Carey home.

He never mentioned the abuse to his parents. They were totally trusting of Walker, although Carey does recall overhearing them referring to him as ‘a bit strange’.

The abuse occurred in the summer holidays. Carey remembers returning to school the next year, feeling embarrassed. He didn’t talk about it with friends. At that stage, Carey started to become a bit rebellious. He remembers anxiety building up.

On another occasion Walker invited Carey to go on a trip, which included an overnight stay, to another town. The purpose was to check out a cricket pitch for an upcoming game. Again Carey didn’t know why he was needed. He doesn’t recall abuse occurring during this trip.

However, when he was 18, Carey made the same trip with a group of others and he became highly stressed as he recognised the route. He vomited. It was such an extreme reaction, Carey wonders if he has blocked out memories of abuse from that previous trip with Walker.

Carey has been a heavy drinker in the past and was charged with drink driving. He believes he could easily have gone on to lead a self-destructive life, except for his family support. He’s clear, however, that he is not willing to blame his child sexual abuse for the rebellion and drinking in his life. Since meeting his wife, Carey has settled. ‘Meeting her I had a reason to … stay at home and talk to someone and not … go blow it at the pub.’

He told his wife about the sexual abuse only the day before he came to the Royal Commission. She is the only person in his life he has told.

Carey is concerned he will become an over-protective parent in years to come because of what happened to him. He’s determined to ‘nip this in the bud now before it comes to a stage where I’m not going to be able to cope to send [his child] off to someone [such as a sports coach] at the age of 12 or 13’.

Carey hopes coming to the Royal Commission won’t make his life harder. He realises it might make him think about the abuse more and that’s something he doesn’t welcome. He’s not interested in counselling.

Part of the reason he’s spoken out is because his abuser still lives in the community and has access to children. The Royal Commission is taking action with the police due to this perceived risk.

Another reason to come to the Commission was for Carey to make recommendations. He would like to make it a rule that no child in a sports club be left alone with anyone else.

Carey also feels strongly that coaches and presidents of children’s sports clubs should go through a police check before they are appointed. ‘Who makes the call? … It’s only a raise of hands at a committee meeting so say “Yep, you can do the job” … There’s not an involved process to say … is this person capable, a nice person or whatever … the right person for the job?’

Carey knows he would be a good coach himself but is reluctant to take it on. He thinks that the situation could be upsetting for him, given what happened to him in the past.

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