‘I was ashamed of this for a long, long – a lot of years of my life. And I was too scared to even speak up … But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve been thinking, “You know what? I’m not the criminal here”.’
In the 1970s, when Graeme was seven or eight, he joined a sports youth group which met in a community hall. One of the adult leaders was Stephen Mullins who was about 30 years old. The first or second time Graeme went, Mullins walked him across the road after sport had finished to a house where Mullins’s parents lived. ‘I don’t know why he would have singled me out as an individual, as a child. I don’t know if he was preying on single mothers.’
Mullins led Graeme into a bedroom, then took off his own clothes before taking off Graeme’s. He sat Graeme on his lap and masturbated him, then himself. As Graeme said in the police statement he made in the 1990s, ‘I felt like I had to do it, that I had no control. It was because I was young and he was an adult. This made me feel ashamed. I didn’t like what I was doing. I didn’t like what he was doing to me. I knew that what he was doing was wrong’. Afterwards, Mullins gave Graeme some lollies.
Mullins abused Graeme in a similar way a week or two later, then abused him several times later in his car. Finally, Mullins abused Graeme on a youth group camp where he made Graeme sleep in the same bed as he ‘played’ with him.
The following day, Mullins took Graeme into the bush on his own. He made Graeme take his clothes off and pose naked while Mullins took pictures. Graeme now believes the chemist, to whom the film was given to be developed, handed the photos to police because a short time later Graeme’s mother and friends were talking about Mullins getting caught. Graeme’s mother asked him if he had ever been touched. ‘And I was petrified … I said, “No, Mum. No, Mum”. I just couldn’t answer her.’
Graeme recalled that it ‘dropped out of my mind for quite a few years’. However, his schooling was ‘absolutely disastrous … My concentration was just gone. I left school at Year 9 because I just had to get out’.
Graeme got a job and has always worked. In his teenage and adult years, he suffered depression and abused alcohol. His mother asked him what was wrong and he told her about the abuse. He had already told a colleague when he was 20.
‘I’ve dealt with a lot of depression … not even wanting to go out of the house during the day. My whole weekend I stay in the house, I don’t go anywhere. And I still do that today. I’ve broken out with a skin allergy through stress … because I think about it. So physically, mentally, he’s definitely done some damage there.
‘I’ve been to counselling and I’ve had some psychiatrists and … they don’t help. There’s nothing worse … bringing it up every time. I’ve had counselling for relationships too, and you can’t change someone.
'I’ve got through life pretty good. I have a job … I try to manage my bills. Try to live like a normal person. And try not to let my ways affect other people.’
When Graeme was in his late 20s he reported Mullins to the Victorian police. He heard nothing more, so did not think anything had eventuated from his report. However, when he again went to the police two years ago, they told him that Mullins had been convicted years ago for offending against Graeme, and couldn’t be convicted twice.
‘I had no idea. Police never even told me that he was convicted … He was convicted back in the mid-90s.’ Graeme was dissatisfied with this. Had he known he might have been able to ‘rest my case a little bit’.
Graeme is currently reviewing his legal options and is in contact with the knowmore legal service.
‘I’m not stopping here … I will be ringing knowmore and I’ll be finding out what the next steps are. Because I’m not stopping. I’ve started this now and it’s going to keep going. It’s gone on for too many years now … I, yeah, just want to rock his boat a bit more.’