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Jesse Daniel's story

After Jesse’s sister passed away his mum had a nervous breakdown. She could no longer care for him, and he became a ward of the state in the early 1980s.

At eight years of age he was placed in a Catholic boys’ home in Melbourne, run by the Christian Brothers. The Brothers violently strapped the boys for even minor infractions, and Brother Francis sexually abused Jesse at least 10 times.

When Jess reported the sexual assaults to another Brother, he was accused of lying. He did not tell his mother because she was very unwell, and institutionalised a great deal of the time. He does not remember ever being visited by welfare authorities.

Jesse ran away from the home several times, often at night in his pyjamas, travelling for miles to go and see his mum. Police picked him up a few times, returning him to the home, but he was too scared to disclose the abuse to them.

After the home Jesse was moved to a reception centre, where he lived on and off for the next five years. At the reception centre he was sexually abused by a staff member who would exchange cigarettes for sexual favours.

During this period he also stayed in a number of short-term foster placements, which were arranged by a local youth service. When he was 12 Jesse was fostered by Archie Redmond, who had changed his name in order to be able to foster children after being convicted of child sex offences.

He spent six months with Redmond, who sexually abused him on a daily basis. This abuse included fondling and oral sex. Redmond also asked Jesse to penetrate him, and to urinate in his mouth.

Jesse was finally removed from this placement after a neighbour recognised Redmond as a known paedophile and reported him to authorities. The police interviewed Jesse and took a statement, but it didn’t seem that they cared much about his wellbeing.

‘It was hard ... At the time, I don’t think the police really gave a shit, that’s how it felt at the time.’ He doesn’t remember the interview very clearly, ‘but I got the gist that they really didn’t care about what happened to me’.

Jesse was called to give evidence in a case against Redmond. This experience was better than his interaction with police. He remembers the judge ‘was good. He basically told me to speak exactly how things happened, he didn’t care about the swearing and stuff like that. I remember that. And he didn’t really let the bloke’s solicitor to cross-examine me’.

He had to be in the court room at the same time as Redmond. ‘It was okay, I didn’t really look at him.’ Jesse doesn’t remember the exact court outcome, but knows Redmond was found guilty and sent to jail.

The youth service also arranged for Jesse to live and work with a man called Simon Piggott, who molested him too. During his time as a state ward, Jesse was often running away or truanting from school, and he began committing crimes.

About a decade ago Jesse sought legal representation, and applied for compensation from the Department of Child Protection. He was awarded a significant payment, almost half of which went towards legal fees. He is currently seeking compensation from the Christian Brothers in regards to his experiences at the boys’ home.

Jesse has previously ‘used a lot of drugs to block it out ... it does help’, and has lived on the streets. He thinks about the abuse ‘all the time’, and finds certain things ‘just bring it back to light, when you see things on the telly [about abuse]’. He has never been offered any counselling, even at the time of Redmond’s criminal trial, but is interested in accessing some kind of therapy now.

He has an extensive criminal record and has been in prison several times. The first time he was in he coincidentally ‘crossed paths’ with Redmond. ‘He actually said, “Jesse, how are you?” And I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t even answer him.’

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