Crystal told the Commissioner that between them, her drug-addicted parents had produced over 20 children to various partners. In the 1990s, newborn Crystal and her 11-month-old sister were placed with foster parents Nancy and Geoff. For their first three years in care, the sisters appeared to develop a close bond with their foster parents, who they affectionately called Nan and Pop. But Crystal’s memories of those early years are peppered with disturbing scenes.
‘I remember clear as day I was about three and Pop grabbed me, put me in a chair in the kitchen, tied me up and put duct tape over my mouth. He did a few weird things to me, then we went into the bedroom where I watched him sexually abuse my Nan. At the time I didn’t know what was happening, but it’s all clicked into place as I’ve gotten older and it’s obvious he’d drugged her so she was completely helpless.’
‘I think we must have said something to Nan, but I can’t remember what. Next thing we knew we were being questioned by police, and every time we said anything about what Pop had done to us they’d just say, “Nah, that can’t be right he’s your Pop, he loves you”, we felt very scared and confused.’
An argument between Crystal’s foster parents one night resulted in Nancy taking out an apprehended violence order against Geoff and leaving with the two girls, who were then around four and five years old.
‘We moved interstate and Pop came looking for us so we had to move a couple more times to get away from him. Years later Nan told me he’d burnt all of our stuff – our photos, everything. We each left with a suitcase of clothes, and that was it.’
The sisters remained with Nancy, and rarely talked of the earlier abuse.
‘My sister was affected very badly, and still refuses to talk to me about what happened. I tend to package the bad memories up into a box, and put that somewhere in the back of my mind so I can get on with things, but it’s always there.’
Returning to the Queensland town where she lived as a young child is difficult.
‘Every time I go there these thoughts creep into my head and they make me want to die, but I won’t kill myself because then my foster father would get away with it scot-free and I’d like to see him punished for what he did to us. It doesn’t seem fair he’s been walking around free for 13 years while we carry those memories around with us every day.’
Crystal said that with the help of counselling she’s feeling positive about her future and plans to report her abuse to police in the hope that Geoff will be held accountable for his actions.
‘I’m keen to move on with my life. I’ve just finished my hairdressing studies so am about to start working, which I’m really looking forward to. All I really want now is for the police to take me seriously and for Geoff to be taken off the streets, so he never has the chance to hurt other kids like he hurt my sister and I.’