Excursions away from the Sydney Salvation Army boys’ home where Eddie lived in the early 1960s were seldom offered, so when he was selected to travel to the Snowy Mountains with some other boys, Eddie looked forward to the trip.
‘I’d just finished cleaning the dorms and was ready to go, when I came across an older boy in the rag room. He was masturbating himself and said I could only go if I’d done a good job of cleaning, and said he was to make a report.
'He wanted me to put his penis in my mouth, and he wanted me to suck it. I did that, then he masturbated himself and ejaculated into a rag, then we went downstairs to go. I was only eight. I was devastated.’
Eddie told the Commissioner that a few months later he ran away and was molested again, this time by a stranger. When Eddie reported the abuse to a Salvation Army major he was told it was God’s way of punishing him for running away.
Throughout the four years he spent at the home, Eddie said, boys were exposed to a ‘peculiar’ ritual while showering.
‘You’d have to stand there in the shower block, and show you’d cleaned everywhere. You’d show your elbows, your knees and bend over and spread your cheeks. It was just what we had to do.’
Later, after a short time living at home with his father, Eddie was made a ward of the state and placed at an Anglican boys’ home in Sydney. He was 13.
‘Mr Hackett was in charge, and I remember once he said he wanted to see how I was going. I was in his lounge room and he sat next to me, put his hand on my leg, then it went on my crotch, and he said, “How does that feel?” Then he played with me until I became erect and he said, “That looks alright”.’
The following night Hackett found him again.
‘This time he starting tongue kissing me. He pulled my penis out and his penis out, and put my hand on his penis. Then he put his penis in my pants, he said he wanted them to get to know each other.’
The sexual abuse continued at least twice a week for 12 months, and on at least four occasions, Eddie was raped.
He told the Commissioner that at one point Hackett introduced him to another man and asked him to go for a drive with the man and act as a ‘companion’.
‘I went to this man’s house, and he said I could have a shower. He jumped in saying it saved water, and washed my back and my butt. We got out and he gave me a cup of Milo, then I went to sleep in my undies. The funny thing is the next morning my undies were on the floor next to me. I assume I was drugged and he had his way with me.’
Eddie left the home at 16, joined the defence forces, and later married and had children. When he left the defence forces, ‘my wife left me, and I got custody of the children, who were all under six at the time. I couldn’t remarry, my life was my kids, I focused on them and they’ve all done well, thankfully’.
Eddie said that he still feels ‘too scared and ashamed’ to report the sexual abuse to police, and despite having a positive outlook, he has found it difficult to forge intimate relationships with women.
‘There was a nice lady interested in me once, but when she put her hand on my leg, I jumped up and chucked a wobbly. I just seem to do better on my own.’