One night after scouts in his Victorian troop, it was 13-year-old Elvin’s turn as patrol leader to help close up with Cecil Parry, who was acting that evening as the duty scout leader. Being kept late while tidying and closing up had happened before.
Parry and his parents and siblings were known to Elvin both socially and through the scouting movement. Parry was usually a rover leader. He was known for keeping boys late on scout night and one time had hugged Elvin which made him feel uncomfortable.
But this time was different.
‘There was a rope hanging in the middle of the scout hall. I tried to get it down because it shouldn’t be there. And Cecil came over and said “just hold on”. Somehow or other, I still cannot understand [how], I found myself hanging with my arms behind my back, my legs tied up and him then proceeding to pull out his penis.’
Parry undid Elvin’s shorts and pulled them down to the boy’s knees while he ‘touched me and fondled me and then I could see the inevitable was that he was going to [perform] fellatio [on] me or I was going to have to …
‘I was terrified and wet myself’, Elvin said in documents provided to the Royal Commission.
Then his father knocked on the door.
When Elvin went to call out, ‘he [Parry] put a hand over my mouth. He undid the ropes, told me to get dressed and [said] if I told my father he’d come and get me – very tangible threat. And then he opened up the scout hall door and said, “Elvin, off you go!” and sort of pushed me out the door.
‘I went home and hopped into bed and about half an hour later my father came in and said, “You’re not asleep?” And I said, “No”.
‘He asked me what had happened and I said I didn’t want to talk about it. He said, “Did he try to touch you?” And I said, “Oh, yeah”. But I said, “I don’t want to talk about it”.’
Elvin stopped going to scouts. And he never spoke about it with his father again.
‘Shortly after that Cecil stopped coming to church and my brother said the scout leader had gone away and … he was gone for about six months.’
Elvin added: ‘But after six months he was back running the senior scouts and rovers. While at that stage it was traumatising I seemed to have a reasonable ability to put things [behind me] and to be quite honest I never thought about it until some 30 years later.’
That was when a relative, Cliff, was arrested on a sex offence charge for which he was jailed and then shared a cell with a paedophile priest whom Elvin knew.
‘It was just so horrible.
‘It didn’t worry me until Cliff went to jail. Then it just surfaced. I’ve made some stupid decisions in my family life since. I’m very lucky that my wife is still even talking to me …
‘The trauma of this brought the images of Parry tying me up flooding back and I now quite often wake up with that image on my mind’, Elvin told the Commissioner.
It was only recently that Elvin told his wife. ‘She just said, “I always knew there was something there”.
‘I’m really terrified I’ve actually sort of buried other things in my mind and they are trying to get out and I don’t want them to.’
For instance, from his diary Elvin knows Parry was a leader on a very long walk that took days in terrible weather up into the Victorian Alps. ‘I’ve got a memory of him being there and I’m not sure, it just feels, every time, that – what happened on that? Because after that I didn’t go on scout hikes. I always hiked by myself.’
Cliff told Elvin that Parry had later ‘very regularly’ attended a Melbourne orphanage as a scoutmaster.
Elvin, now in his 70s, is not sure whether Parry is still alive and because he now lives a very long way from Melbourne, ‘I’ve got to the point where I can actually say things about it’.
What he does recall is that in the five years following that terrible night, ‘two of the kids I was in scouts with … committed suicide as teenagers’.
Since then he knows of a colleague’s son who ‘was raped by a scout leader’.
‘Those things should never happen’, said Elvin. ‘I was just so lucky that Dad had decided that I was really late home and decided to come over.’
Female leaders should always be ‘in the mix’ in youth organisations, particularly for those under 16 years old, Elvin recommends. ‘I don’t think you should be allowed to have a child by yourself under any circumstances.’
‘It’s a scourge,’ he said of paedophilia, which he believes is ‘something that has probably been around for as long as humans have been around’.
But he doesn’t know of any answers apart from ‘education, education, education’ about what can happen. In country towns, he acknowledges, it is even harder.
‘What I’m not too sure about is the ability of coppers in small rural communities to deal with it. In small rural communities it’s all about family – it’s all within the family.’ While a paedophile teacher might stand out, there is no ‘stranger danger’ warnings about families.
‘What doesn’t show is the uncle who takes kids out bush. He doesn’t show.’