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Evan Gareth's story

Evan grew up in the outer suburbs of Sydney. He became a cub scout in the mid-1970s, and remained a member of the scouts well into his 20s.

The large scout group that Evan belonged had two scout leaders, and parents would help with activities. There were also, at times, assistant scout leaders, ‘and that’s when this other guy came in’.

When Evan was 12, Colin Bridge began assisting at the Friday night meetings he and his brother attended.

‘One of my older friends … in the group, was sort of associating with him after hours, getting lifts with him to and from the scout meetings and that … I went with him because my friend had already been going with him, so I didn’t hesitate to jump in his car.’

Colin started giving Evan and his brother lifts to and from the scout meetings. Sometimes he picked them up on weekends, taking them camping or just for a drive around the neighbourhood.

He began sexually abusing the boys too.

‘The first assault, there was my brother and another guy … I think he gave us … some sort of wine … I do remember getting tipsy or drunk, whatever, and running around a bit in the camp, and then I remember him dragging us back in and keeping us under control a bit and then bedded us down in the tent, the three of us.’

Colin left them there, and went to sleep in his car.

Evan woke up during the night ‘to him under the blanket molesting me … woke up with him maybe under the blanket with the other boys … and not sure what was going on … I went back to sleep, but I do remember waking up and he was on top of me under the blanket, with the blanket over his head, with a torch, and pulling my penis’.

The abuse occurred many more times over the course of about a year, but never during scouting activities. It stopped when Colin stopped going to the Friday night meetings.

Evan believes that others may have known that there was something going on with
Colin. He remembers driving to a scout camp one day, with a leader in the car.

‘There was a discussion about [Colin] in the back seat … about him being a poofter or something, and I didn’t want to get involved with the conversation …

‘I had a feeling there might have been a couple of boys … I can’t remember their names, but I remember there was something funny that went on, and they seemed to have left the scout group quite quickly.’

A couple of years ago, Evan took stock of his life and decided it needed to change.

‘I hadn’t worked for a while, and I’d been smoking marijuana all my life, doing a bit of drinking, and that, and I wasn’t right. I tried to get help and assistance to get off the stuff … pick myself up a bit, you know, in life …

‘I tried rehab for a couple of days, but they couldn’t help me. I wasn’t bad enough for them to help. They didn’t seem to care … So I just walked away, and thought, “I’m going to help myself” … get myself back to work and … fix it.’

He has now been back at work for six months.

Out of the blue last year, Evan decided to go to the police to report Colin. ‘After deciding to make these allegations to the police, I went home that night and it was all over the news about the Royal Commission starting up … It was just a strange coincidence.’

Then recently, Evan’s brother attended a party for their old scout leader, Matt. Evan didn’t go, but his brother spoke to Matt, and asked about Colin, ‘and apparently was told that they found out that he’d been doing something to boys and they got rid of him, and that’s all I know. And I was never told anything back in those days about it’.

Evan told the Commissioner that he never said anything to anyone about the sexual abuse because ‘as children, [you] shut up and never said a word … I was embarrassed, horrified. I could have [stopped it], but then, things have to be said, and it was going to make me look bad, you know, that I was doing it … I let it happen. I feel like I was very mature back then, but when I look at 13-year-olds now, they’re not’.

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