The Catholic boys’ home where Glenn lived as a ward of the state offered him little by way of protection from his peers. It was the second institution he’d been placed in since leaving his grandparents’ home in the 1960s at the age of four.
‘My mother had me at 16 and my little sister came 18 months later. She couldn’t cope, she went out one day and never came back, so our grandparents looked after us. The day after my fourth birthday, my grandma had a heart attack and died at 54 years of age. My granddad was pretty unwell and couldn’t keep us, so my sister was adopted out and I somehow ended up in boys’ homes.’
Glenn told the Commissioner he was one of many children routinely gang-raped by older boys as a ‘rite of passage’ into teen-hood, while living at the home in regional New South Wales.
‘I was about nine when it started, they’d get us in the shower blocks every chance they could. When I turned 15 I was encouraged to abuse the younger boys, but I was never involved willingly.’
Weekends and holidays provided some respite from the cold and abusive environment for Glenn, when he was allowed to stay with a local foster family.
‘The Swans … were very strict. They didn’t encourage any crying or show any of us physical affection, but they were generally good to me.'
Charles was Glenn’s foster uncle, and was close to the Swan family.
‘We’d often go around to Uncle Charles’s place for a swim in his pool, and he’d get me alone in there and we’d play games where I had to touch his erection. I was about eight or nine when that started happening. Sometimes he’d take me to a bedroom in the house to fondle me.’
Glenn was too scared to tell his foster parents at the time.
‘I was worried that if I spoke up, I’d be kicked out and the thought of returning to the boys’ home was horrible. My foster father was very close to his brother and I felt he would easily choose Charles’s word over mine.’
As a teenager Glenn began ‘sexually experimenting’ with an older foster brother at which point he realised he was homosexual.
‘The Swans were very religious and very homophobic and when they found out what we were doing I got blamed for bringing shame onto the family because I was gay and I’d introduced their son to homosexual behaviour. I later found out he was doing things with other boys too, so it wasn’t my fault. Things were still happening with Uncle Charles, and as an adult I made a conscious decision to keep going with him. If I wanted to go out clubbing, I’d just go to his house and do what he wanted me to do, then he’d give me money to go out. I guess it was a form of prostitution.’
When Glenn was about 40 he was having a heated argument with his foster father and suddenly told him about Charles’s abuse.
‘I was so angry, I even described Charles’s penis to a T. He basically accused me of making up bullshit, and that’s the last conversation I’ve had with my father, I haven’t seen him or my mum in a decade.’
Glenn expressed regret for having missed key celebrations with the Swan family since the argument.
‘I don’t get invited to weddings or birthdays, I’ve missed seeing my nieces and nephews grow up ... My foster [siblings] have been told the relationship with Uncle Charles started when I was an adult so I feel my parents are ignoring the truth to protect him, and that hurts.’
Glenn said his abusive childhood has made it almost impossible to form a stable relationship.
‘I’ve been on my own for 20 years, I always feel like people are trying to put one over me and I don’t trust anyone. The Swans were the only parents I ever knew, and they’ve completely disowned me. It’s not right, and I intend to make a report to police because this man needs to be held responsible. A kid doesn’t understand what those feelings are or that what someone’s doing is wrong or illegal. I thought he was showing me love, but instead he stole my innocence.’