As a teenager in the mid-1980s Earle got a part-time job to help his family out financially. One of his friends was employed by the local greengrocer in their regional New South Wales town but no longer wanted to work for the manager, Lou, so suggested Earle take over.
Lou groomed Earle for a while, and often tried to put his hands down Earle’s pants. ‘He was a really horrible man. It was horrible because he was always touching me, you know, was always playing with me. I remember once I had to touch him, and I didn’t go ahead with it. I did a little bit and stopped. That was horrible enough, ‘cause he was a fully grown man and I was only a little kid.’
Lou was a strong man, and when ‘I tried pushing him away, he’d keep forcing himself on me’. Eventually Earle gave up on resisting Lou’s attempts. ‘After a while I started to let him do it ... He’d offer me money, ‘cause we didn’t have much money – Mum was separated.’
The abuse mostly happened on the weekends after work had finished for the day, when Earle was tired and ‘he’d take advantage of me’. ‘If you didn’t let him play with you he’d get real cranky.’
When Earle was 16 Lou raped him. ‘He said “you’re 16 now”, and he thought ‘cause you’re 16 he can have [a] right to sexually abuse me. And he gave me a sip of beer and he must have put a sleeping pill in it because all I remember is laying down, and he was behind me, trying to put his doodle in me. I woke up in the morning and went to the toilet and out come all his semen, where he’d ejaculated in me.’
Lou constantly threatened Earle not to tell anyone about the abuse, saying he would get into big trouble with his mother if she found out. Earle believed him so said nothing. He now believes the friend who got him the job was sexually abused by Lou too.
‘It’s scary because when you’re a little boy you got your family and all your mates – you don’t want your mates to find out, they’ll all call you gay.’
When Earle was in his late teens his mother asked him whether Lou was ‘hassling’ him, and Earle disclosed the abuse. She took him to report Lou to police, but the sergeant was ‘really rude’ and said ‘there’s nothing we can do unless we catch him in bed with you’.
After this Earle stopped working for Lou and the abuse ceased. Since then he has attempted suicide many times and spent time in psychiatric care, has nightmares, and has been on medication for his mental health since his 20s.
Earle found other employment but is now on a pension. Recently he has been in contact with police again and is in the process of making a statement, as well as providing the names of other boys he suspects Lou also abused.
He became a committed Christian and has forgiven Lou (who is now very elderly, and still living in the area).
‘I love Jesus now, and I pray to God, and we go to church. I’ve forgiven him, but ... I know God will get him.’