‘I got all the respect in the world for my mother … She had a tough life … She brought us all up on a pension. Baked beans on toast was nice. We didn’t know any better. And that’s why I said, got all the respect in the world for her. Terrific, brilliant person. And she would have stopped it if she knew.’
Jack was the youngest child in a fatherless family which lived in a housing commission in Sydney. In the 1960s, when he was about six or seven, ‘somehow the Red Cross got involved’. A social worker in his 20s called Bryan Hobson contacted the family and offered to take Jack on regular outings.
Initially, Hobson took Jack to parks and bowling alleys. However, within a year, Hobson took Jack to the home he shared with his mother, and to other locations across Sydney, and sexually abused him.
‘It would start off with masturbation, or fellatio … That would happen every time he came around. And he said, you know, not to say anything. I was really young. I didn’t know what to do. But that happened regularly.’
Jack remembered how Hobson ‘would have pretend sex, sort of like put something between my legs, some sort of lubricant, and get off’.
Hobson also took Jack away on camps. Some camps were run for ‘busloads’ of kids, ‘maybe 50 or 60’, while others were much smaller.
The smaller camps might have occurred on private property, and might have been organised by Hobson rather than the Red Cross. ‘There was only like two men, and about seven or eight kids … They were pretty well, “Here’s the meat for you” sort of thing.’ Hobson ‘had other kids there and he was abusing them … He’d take them, but you knew what was going on’.
Jack was also sexually abused in a Red Cross facility beneath a town hall in western Sydney. ‘There was no one there, and it must have been Sunday or something like that because there was another guy there and he had a girl … I’m not too sure of the age - maybe 10 or 11 - and they disappeared for maybe half an hour … Then they took pictures. I think we were both naked … She was my age.’
Jack was also raped by Hobson on Sydney’s north shore. ‘He put me into the station wagon and attempted to have sex with me. And somebody, a person pulled in on a sort of like large bushy carpark … maybe 100 metres away … There was a knife in the back. I think that the knife was up against my throat. And he said, “Don’t you say anything, don’t you do anything, don’t you yell out”. … Then he raped me.’
The sexual abuse occurred over a ‘long period of time, on a regular basis’, until Jack reached his early teens and could physically resist Hobson. Then ‘some other guy turned up, supposedly from the Red Cross. I doubt whether he was from the Red Cross. He started fumbling around in the car … so I just took a swipe at him, and never saw him again. He [Hobson] must have passed me on to another paedophile’.
About a year later, a police investigation prompted Jack’s mother to ask him if he knew ‘anything about sexual abuse from that guy from the Red Cross?’ Ashamed and caught off guard, Jack said ‘no’. More than a decade went by before Jack could finally tell his mother. She believed him straight away, and wrote to the Red Cross. She received a letter denying that the organisation had ever run camps.
Jack became violently intolerant of any Marist Brother at his school who ‘tried it on’ with him or other students. He remembers holding one Brother ‘over a balcony’ and threatening to ‘fucking kill’ him if he didn’t stop. While Jack ‘got whipped quite a bit’, and was nearly expelled for such behaviour, many of the Brothers at his school eventually ended up ‘in jail for paedophilia’.
Jack’s grades were ‘pretty shit’ for a few years, but he ‘performed really well’ in his final years of school. He passed up a place at university because, being a housing commission boy, he ‘had to work’ and ‘earn money’.
As a young man, Jack decided to get up in the morning and throw his memories of sexual abuse ‘in the garbage bin’ and ‘get on with it’. However, as he got older, Jack ‘tried to claim solace via the bottle’, and started having panic attacks, especially when he drove passed places where Hobson had sexually abused him.
‘I don’t remember getting to places, I don’t remember coming back from places, I don’t know how I got there - but I do know what happened there.’
Driving passed these places would sometimes make Jack ‘physically ill’. He said that it brings back ‘something you don’t forget’.
Jack has been on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs for ‘quite a while now’, but is yet to disclose to his doctor, or seek counselling support. However, Jack did tell his wife Charlotte who supported him during his private session, and who is ‘one of the best things’ in his life. Their children – who Jack over-protected – are now ‘great’ adults. ‘They’ve all grown up terrific’, Jack said. ‘I love them to death.’
Jack has recently contacted a lawyer to discuss a compensation claim, but he is in ‘two minds’ about contacting the police. ‘I hope he’s alive so he cops it’, Jack said of Hobson, ‘but I hope he’s dead because I want him dead’.
Jack said that being sexually abused has ‘put me through hell most of my life. You still remember, it always comes back, and you remember being in that car … It’s getting worse as I get older. I think having the Royal Commission, hearing the stories about other kids, it brings it back. As I said, I tried to just put in the garbage bin in my head, but I couldn’t’.