In the 1960s, Edmund decided to join a boys’ club run by the Church of England whose activities included ‘ball games, crafts, rope crafts and other fun’, as well as attending camps. He became acquainted with Ian Gregory who was ‘the head honcho’ of the local branch, and lived nearby.
Gregory would drive Edmund to and from club activities. During these trips Edmund would talk about problems he had at home.
‘Gregory was a good support for me at the time and I opened up and had told him a lot about my parents’ abusive relationship ... I was quite vulnerable around this time of my life and I knew each time Gregory would drop me home I would be going from something good [the club] into hell which was my home life. Looking back Gregory took full advantage of that knowing what I was going through and being vulnerable.’
When Edmund was 14 he went on a trip to another town with Gregory. On the way home Gregory attempted to make Edmund perform oral sex, but Edmund moved away. After this incident Gregory would hug Edmund every time he dropped him off after the club.
At one point Edmund spent several weekends at Gregory’s house when his wife and children were away. ‘My mum thought Gregory was a good person so had no worries about me being at his place.’ Gregory repeatedly sexually abused Edmund during these visits.
A year or two later Gregory disappeared without notice from the area and moved interstate. ‘Just like that. Out of me life and from the church ... One day he was there, the next day he was gone.’
Edmund tried to put the abuse ‘right to the back of me head’, and did not tell his family about it for fear of bringing shame on them. He married and had kids, and enjoyed a good family life.
It was several decades before he disclosed the abuse to anyone, finally deciding to do so after seeing numerous media reports about child sexual abuse.
‘As soon as you turn the TV on, there it is, bang. Anyway I went to the doctor, to my GP, and I actually did have a nervous breakdown. Tears rolled out ... I had to explain ‘cause bloody nearly needed a mop to come in and mop up the tears ... I’m a pretty solid bloke, you know, I’m a pretty staunch bloke, and I just turned to butter.’
He explained what had happened and his GP referred him to a counsellor. Next he told his wife and family. ‘Because I’ve changed, people have noticed a change in me – you know, I’d go to bed early, and I don’t want to do this and I don’t want to do that ... [now] I’ve told close friends.’
Prior to disclosing the abuse to his doctor ‘I tried to suicide. I just got in this zone where ... I never thought about me children, me grandchildren, me wife. I just went into this zone ... I never want to go back in that stage. I can fully understand now why people do suicide over it, I really can. I’ve been in that zone ... There was just no way out of that thing that I was in in that moment, no way’.
Recently Edmund reported the matter to police, and gave his first statement to a female officer. ‘She was absolutely brilliant. As you can respect, it takes a lot to sit down and talk to a lady about and tell her what a male’s done to you, and what a male would like to have done to me.’
Gregory refused to be interviewed.
Knowing that Gregory had already served time in prison for other child sex offences, Edmund felt that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) would agree to take the matter further. He was disappointed to be told that the case would not proceed, and to be questioned about the time it took him to report the abuse. ‘They brought in me age, and the length of time that this occurred – they queried that.’
The DPP also ‘said to me was that I’m probably getting a bit obsessed by it. And that’s really a kick in the arse’.
The police officer he spoke to originally was ‘really astounded’ by this outcome as Edmund had given a comprehensive account of the abuse, including details of Gregory’s car and home where the abuse occurred.
Edmund is now seeking legal advice about his options for criminal and civil action against Gregory and the Church. Although his ‘whole life has been turned upside down’ by these recent events, he tries to remain positive.
‘I’ve done a lot of things good in me life, but I’ve still got this thing there. And I’m looking at the fact that yeah, the good outdoes the evil ... That’s the way I look at it at the moment, and try and keep it that way.’