Darren joined a sports club in the mid 1980s when he was seven. His coach was a young man named Keith Young who had just arrived in Darren’s small Victorian town.
‘I look at the situation I was in as a little kid’, Darren said. ‘Very impressionable. There’s a new bloke in town, no one knows him, he arrives in town and slowly but surely he wins the hearts of the kids and the families. And before you know it, there’s a problem.’
It took Darren more than 15 years to identify this problem exactly. Throughout his teens and 20s he’d been troubled by strange memories but wasn’t able to identify their significance until he was in his mid-30s.
Around this time he began meditating before bed, examining his strange scraps of memory as he drifted off to sleep. He did this for about three nights and then on the fourth night the truth suddenly ‘popped into his head'. The memory was vivid. ‘There was no doubt in my mind that it had occurred.’
What Darren remembered was that he and several other boys in the team had been sexually abused many times by Keith Young and other unidentified men over two years. Darren remembered Young fondling him. He remembered walking into the change room when he was nine and finding Young standing there with his penis in a boy’s mouth. He remembered that Young later did the same thing to him.
He also remembered several occasions when the team was relocated from the training ground to a local’s house where there was a ‘semi-professional’ photographic studio. The kids would be given a drink that put them to sleep. Darren had ‘vague memories of lots of little kids, and I’m assuming they’re all naked and being photographed and that kind of stuff’.
Once he had assembled a reasonably clear memory of the abuses, Darren told his family. They were sceptical. He said he understood where they were coming from. In his 20s Darren had undergone a bout of drug-induced psychosis. A few years later he suffered some concentration and memory problems similar to those associated with attention deficit disorder.
‘They said it’s unbelievable. All of that suddenly falling on top of them made them think that maybe he’s a little bit sick again: “Has he got a problem here and do we believe everything?” So they’re in a situation now where they’re not sure whether to support me.’
Although he readily admitted that he was a bit shaky on some of the details of the abuse, Darren had complete confidence in the core truth. With this memory came new anxieties. He feared that Young might still be abusing children, so he went to the police and made a statement. They took down all his details, but he hasn’t heard from them since.
‘The concern from my point of view was whether the information that I provided proved useful? They never came back asking for anything … I was always saying, “If you need anything else, let me know. There are other names of boys that I would consider likely to possibly have some memory of something”. And I never heard any questions or theories from their end.’
As far as Darren knows, the police dropped his case a few months after he made his statement. But he wasn’t quite done with it, which is why he came to speak to the Royal Commission.
‘I basically came here from the point of view that it was going to be me trying to provide you with details for your benefit so you can look into things from an overall perspective. As long as you’ve got the information from here that you need, then I’m happy to call it a day.’