Holly has never had the opportunity to talk about the sexual abuse she and other children suffered while in family day care at the home of Kevin Rogers in regional New South Wales. ‘I’ve been waiting to speak about this for a really long time.’
In the 1990s seven-year-old Holly and her three younger siblings started going to Rogers’ home before and after school, on weekends, and during school holidays.
‘I think he targeted single mothers. We didn’t have a dad, and Mum worked three jobs. She really needed care for us. Rogers said he’d charge her half the fees, and he’d do things like let us live in one of his houses in town when we got kicked out of our own house.’
Rogers had two adjoining houses. His wife and three children lived in one while he took in children and lived in the other. There were usually about 10 children at his home, and he sexually abused all of them.
‘He abused us all. There wasn’t any secret about him doing it in front of the others, but he said if we told anyone, something terrible would happen to our mothers. He threatened us with the people we loved and needed the most.’
The abuse started with Rogers touching her, then ‘he made me touch him and then it was penetration. By the time I was 11 it was penetration everywhere. I refused once and he went straight for my siblings. After that it wasn’t about right or wrong. I just preferred it to be me than my sisters and brother’. Rogers filmed the children and at times made them available to other men.
Family day care was overseen by the local council and Holly doesn’t understand how it allowed Rogers to care for children, nor how education authorities gave him access to children through ‘camps’ in the school library. After a complaint from one of the children Rogers was stopped from going to the school, but apparently no investigation was undertaken.
A few years before Holly was abused, Rogers had been charged with child sexual assault offences – but no check was conducted on him by the local council when he set up the family day care service. A state government department had also sent a letter to the council telling it to investigate Rogers, after receipt of a report of children sleeping in his bed. The council took no action and the department later said that its own staff had followed correct procedures.
In the 2000s Rogers suicided after being charged in relation to sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl. Holly’s aunt asked her if she had been assaulted as her mother was too upset to speak. Holly said ‘No’. Later that evening however, she wrote a note in which she disclosed the abuse.
‘My mother was so distraught. To this day she still punishes herself. We both know it wasn’t her fault. It wasn’t the school’s fault either; it was the system’s fault. He should never have been allowed to work with children. Something was wrong somewhere.’
Neither Holly nor her mother were interviewed by police. Holly spoke to them for the first time when she was 19 and seeking more information about what had happened. She wants it known that many people had suffered as a result of Rogers’ abuse. ‘I want to speak for them and for everyone else who’s been abused in childcare.’ She knew of many difficulties faced by other victims and had experienced years of anguish herself, but was now studying at university and working with young people.
‘I’ve got my life together. This year has been a good one, and if you have one that’s good you work towards the next and make that good too.’