Jaden’s father was in the defence forces so his family moved around a lot. In the early 1970s they were transferred to a base in New South Wales.
Jaden loved attending the nearby scout troop ‘at first’, but his enjoyment waned after he was sexually abused by his scoutmaster. Although the man lived on the base, he also had a ramshackle shed on a bush block. ‘I bumped into him once when I was on a bush walk and he took me to that shed. He started fondling me and performing oral sex on me … also got me to reciprocate. That was the first occasion.’
Jaden told the Commissioner that he wasn’t aware at the time that what the scoutmaster had done was a serious crime.
‘As a … 12-year-old boy … going through puberty, and starting to awaken sexually … it doesn’t come across as being anything really bad but in hindsight, I look on it as a grooming process for what came later.’
Before this incident, Jaden remembers that ‘there was myself and a couple of others that seemed to be encouraged more than the other scouts … positions of more responsibility within the troop, and things like that’.
The second incident occurred about three to six months after the first. Jaden was on a shooting trip with a mate and his family. The scoutmaster was there too. One morning he told Jaden that he looked ill and that he should stay at the campsite and return to bed. He said he would come back later and look after him.
‘About mid-morning he came back and anally had sex with me, had anal sex with me … and … said, “If you say anything you won’t be believed. It’s your fault”. I said something to my friend’s father, who dismissed it as a childhood fantasy, “Don’t make things up. It hasn’t happened” … In those days … you’d look at people like a scoutmaster or a priest and you wouldn’t believe that they could do that. And that’s what other adults, their perspective of it was as well.’
Jaden didn’t try to tell anyone else ‘mainly because of the “You’re at fault” you know, “You won’t be believed”, threats’. It was nearly 40 years before he spoke about the abuse again.
‘I’ve built defence mechanisms … stood me in good ground since then. I spoke … to a psychologist about it and she actually … asked me what the trauma block was in my head, what had happened in my past. So I explained to her what had happened.’ Jaden had gone to see the psychologist when he was having problems with his teenage son.
Jaden told the Commissioner that because he wasn’t believed when he reported the abuse, it ‘made me drink as a 13-year-old. And it was spirits that I was drinking … every weekend virtually … to the stage of being obliterated’.
These days Jaden only drinks about once a week, and not to excess. ‘Managed to get all of that out of my system in my 20s. Some nights I’d drink three or four bottles of tequila a night … so I was really writing myself off. So it was good to get that out of the system and not do it anymore.’
In a written statement, Jaden said ‘This whole experience has left me scarred for life. It has taken me this long to find the strength of my conviction to make this submission to the Royal Commission … I hope … to find closure to this nightmare that has haunted me for years’.
Jaden told the Commissioner that he was ‘grateful to have the opportunity to actually say my piece … Anything that’s going to help this sort of problem go away’.