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Jack Brendan's story

Jack became friends with the boys across the road when he was growing up in a town in regional Queensland. It was through them that he became a cub and then, at about 12 or 13, a scout. Their scout leader was Rob Grant.

‘He started with them. He had a Kombi van. He used to pick them up, take them swimming on weekends, down to swimming holes where we camped [for] scouts … He sent this older brother over to see if I could go swimming … Of course I wanted to go swimming. And that’s when he first abused me in the water hole there.’

Grant sexually abused Jack for the two or three years that he was a scout in the early 1970s. Grant raped Jack and would also masturbate him violently, causing bruising and swelling of Jack’s penis. Jack tried to hide the bruises from other boys in the showers at camps, and from his father at home.

There was another scout, whose mother was a scout leader, and Jack believes that both of them knew what Grant was doing. He recalled one occasion when Grant told him to sleep at the end of the row in the tent, and the other boy swapped places with him. Jack now believes that the other scout was trying to protect him.

Grant became enraged when he discovered that Jack wasn’t sleeping on the end of the row. ‘[He] found me in the middle and punched me in the gut a couple of times. He said, “I told you to sleep on the end” and said, “Get it out” … get me doodle out, and he did me there and then … [I was] black and blue for a week, and torn skin …

‘[The other boy’s] mother used to look at me like, and have a sorry look in her eye for you, but nothing was ever done, to my knowledge.’

Jack told the Commissioner that he was ‘a bit dirty’ on the other boy and his mother for not doing anything about the abuse.

Jack left the scouts when he started an apprenticeship at 15 and he ‘never joined any other clubs again’. He has experienced trust issues and problems maintaining relationships throughout his life. ‘I just can’t do the relationship thing … I’m not gay. I just can’t do the relationship thing.’

Jack had issues with alcohol and marijuana, but had been sober for over 10 years until he saw Grant when he was driving to a job one day in the late 2000s. This caused him to start drinking again. When he arrived at the job he was visibly upset, and when he explained to the customer why, the customer advised him to seek counselling, which he did.

After a while, Jack became ‘sick of talking. I’d spill me beans, told ‘em everything … I was sick of it … It was doing my head in back then. I’d been talking to counsellors and that for months and still drinking and carrying on, you know, and I just [got] sick of it and stopped everything’. He stopped talking, but continued drinking.

Jack consulted a lawyer about a compensation payment from the scouting organisation, but when the lawyer said that the process could take years, he stopped taking phone calls from him. The lawyer sent him a letter recently saying, ‘“We realise you might have needed a break, but if you want to get back in contact, we’ll [take] the next step”. And that’s where we’re at’.

An old friend told him recently that Grant had died, but Jack can’t be sure that this is true, and would like to find out. If he is still alive, he would like to see him charged, as he is sure that he wasn’t Grant’s only victim. The boys across the road moved away very suddenly, and Jack wonders if their mother realised that Grant was abusing her sons.

Despite not wanting to talk about the sexual abuse anymore, Jack is now seeing a psychologist who has prescribed him medication to stop his cravings for alcohol. It seems to be working.

Jack believes that the sexual abuse he experienced as a child has ruined his life. ‘When you’re a kid, eh, and things like that [happen], it just sort of stops you in your tracks I reckon. Once it happens, that’s it. You’re damaged … I say to people, “I’m damaged goods”. Once it’s happened, it’s too late …’

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