‘I wanted someone to be held responsible.’
Caspar was left by his mother in the care of a relative when he was very young, and spent most of his childhood being passed between different family members. Caspar was subject to significant sexual abuse as a young boy by various family members in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. By the time he was 10, he’d spent time living rough on the streets, and at 11 he was made a ward of the state.
As a child, Caspar was diagnosed with ADHD and labelled ‘uncontrollable’. He recalls seeing a court-appointed child psychologist and telling her about the sexual abuse he had experienced within the family. ‘They just sort of dismissed it’, Caspar told the Commissioner. No further action was taken.
Caspar started abusing heroin and other drugs from a young age, and subsequently became engaged in drug-related criminal activity.
In the mid 1990s, when Caspar was 12, he was placed in a children’s home run by the Catholic Church in the ACT. There he was sexually abused by the manager of the centre who Caspar only remembers as Kyle. Kyle provided Caspar with drugs in return for sexual favours. Caspar was abused in this manner on several occasions.
Caspar was also sexually abused by Arthur Katz, a man who did not work at the children’s home but would visit regularly. Katz was allowed to remove Caspar from the home and take him on excursions. These trips were part of Caspar’s early introduction to drugs.
‘At first I didn’t have a choice. Arthur just used to inject the heroin, hand out aerosols, pot.’ Once Caspar was high, Katz would sexually abuse him. ‘He’d take me out and I used to come back very, very stoned and drugged.’
Caspar disclosed the sexual abuse to an aunt who removed him from the centre, and took him to live with her interstate. A month later his aunt found Caspar injecting himself with heroin and kicked him out.
School finished for Caspar at the start of Year 8; he eventually taught himself to read and write while in prison. ‘I’ve had no contact with any of my family for nearly 15 years. Only my sister ... But it’s just all been drugs and jail. I haven’t learnt how to deal with anything in life.’
Caspar’s addiction has continued and he has spent much of his adult life in prison on robbery and drug-related charges. ‘I’m out for three or four weeks at a time – I’m using drugs, I end up doing a stupid crime and I come back to jail.
‘I don’t know how to live outside.’
Caspar suffers from depression, anxiety and a raft of other mental health conditions. ‘A few mental disorders now. I can’t hold a proper relationship with anyone. I don’t trust anybody.’
He has been seeing a prison psychologist, but Caspar is reluctant to disclose his history of sexual abuse to the man. He is fearful others in the prison will learn of it and use it against him. Caspar believes the psychologist is not really dealing with the causes of his problems and is just keeping him medicated.
Caspar is isolated in the prison where he is now living. This is partly because he has been violent with other inmates who are sex offenders. Again, he is reluctant to reveal his past to anyone as an explanation for his present behaviour.
One sister is Caspar’s only lifeline to the outside world. He is in touch with her regularly. She is well aware of his addiction, but Caspar has been unable to tell even her about his abuse as a child.
Caspar would like to see more support services in place for children who are doing it tough. Caspar lost his mother in an accident when he was small. He believes some counselling at that time might have made a difference to his life – ‘Instead of just being left to use drugs and get abused’.