Grigor draws a direct link between the repeated sexual abuse he suffered as an 11-year-old and the long jail sentence he has received for drug offences in middle age.
‘They would’ve been better off killing me, these guys’, Grigor told the Commissioner. ‘Because I’ve had to live with this, and not even know I’m living with it, for such a long time. It ruined my life, there’s no doubt in my mind.’
In the mid-1970s Grigor moved with his mother and stepfather to Sydney’s northern suburbs. His life had been up-ended by his parents’ divorce years before, and now he had to make new friends. He believes he was emotionally vulnerable at this time.
Grigor met Oliver Parker, a man in his 50s who coached at the local Police and Citizens Youth Club (PCYC). Parker would collect boys from their homes and run them to the club in his car. ‘He started grooming me from the word go.’ Grigor found he was the last one to be dropped off each time. After a few weeks Parker began to reach across and squeeze his thigh when they were travelling alone together. This progressed to genital groping.
‘I wasn’t scared. I knew what he was doing was wrong but I trusted him.’
The abuse in the car then went to masturbation. And a short while later Parker lured Grigor to a ‘gym’ in the basement of his house.
Parker stripped the boy and masturbated him. Grigor was alarmed and began to cry. Parker slapped him several times and then bound the boy’s hands in front of him. He stood Grigor on a chair and hooked his tied hands to a nail above Grigor’s head. He took Grigor’s penis in his mouth. ‘He said something like, “How does that feel? I could bite it off so you better not tell anyone”.’
Despite this ordeal Grigor kept attending the PCYC. He was scared of Parker and his son, and remembers a strong desire to keep up with the sports the club offered.
Grigor was also abused by one of the police officers who ran the PCYC, John Ryan. Ryan was with Parker one evening when both men groped Grigor in the showers. Ryan also lured him into a storage shed one weekend for forced masturbation.
Parker’s abuse continued for a year and included more instances of oral sex and also anal sex. Grigor found the penetration painful and refused to cooperate again; a few weeks later Parker stopped driving him to the club and his time at the PCYC was over.
Grigor told no one about the sexual abuse, and began to feel guilt and shame. ‘I stopped boxing, I stopped playing football. I was pretty angry. I did some self-harm stuff to myself as well. I was just really confused.
‘I’ve just tried to suppress it all, make it go away, all my life …
‘I started using drugs when I was very young, just about straight after the abuse. I started drinking quite a lot as well … The law caught up with me when I was 20 or 21. It was because of the drug abuse … I had a very bad drug habit and I got into trying to support my habit.’
By the early 90s Grigor was rebuilding his life and had been through rehab. He married and fathered a child. During this period he disclosed the abuse to his sibling and then his mother. She was shocked but very supportive, and urged him to find counselling and go to the police.
Grigor made a statement detailing the abuse by Parker. ‘I was fried by the time I gave that statement. It was very draining.’ Parker was arrested and Grigor was called to give evidence at his committal hearing. ‘That was one of the worst experiences of my life, being cross examined by a prosecutor who was trying to tell me that it didn’t happen.’
But worse was to come. He received a letter from the Director of Public Prosecutions explaining that the case had been dropped because Parker’s health was poor. Grigor was shattered. He was offered no support.
‘I was told I’d never get over it but I’d find a way to live with it and deal with it. And I thought, “I know how to do that, I know how to use drugs”. Because that makes it go away - and it started again. I relapsed. I’d been away from drug dealing and all that for several years and I just went straight back into it. I left my partner, I left my child and started on a road to destruction.’
In the early 2000s Grigor returned to jail. As he approaches the end of his sentence he is hoping to restart a normal life, but doesn’t know how to get over the effects of the abuse.
‘I don’t know if anything helps. I don’t know if you can counsel someone through this, I really don’t … I don’t think it’s something you can get over. I think it destroys your life.’
Grigor is nevertheless supportive of the Commission’s work with prison inmates. ‘This Royal Commission is the best thing that could’ve happened for adult survivors … You’re not making it hard for people, whereas when I first came out with it I was just basically kicked to the kerb.’