Kelan grew up in a suburb of Melbourne, where his parents ran a shop. After school Kelan would go to a nearby youth club held at a Baptist church. The family weren’t Baptist, but it was a good club and had lots of gym equipment that Kelan liked. The person in charge, Terrence Hardy, wasn’t a priest but the kids called him ‘Father’ and he wore a ‘dog collar’ with civilian clothes.
Hardy groomed Kelan before sexually abusing him in his office and in his house, which was close to the church. Kelan said ‘all sorts of things’ happened in those places.
The abuse occurred in the late 1970s when Kelan was 10 years old, and at the time he didn’t feel he could disclose it to anyone else.
‘Looking back on it, it was something that you just don’t go and tell others about. Because it feels like you’ve crossed that line, so it’s very hard to try to tell anybody about that, [if] it’s happening, because of how they’re going to look at you.’
Kelan believed that Hardy was moved interstate after another boy’s mother complained about him.
Several years later Kelan was sexually abused by another man who worked near his parents’ business. As an adult, he’d tried to forget about the assaults.
‘I think I just sort of put it behind me in a way, you know. Tried to put it behind me. I mean since that, after I sort of decided that things weren’t right … I did come across people like that again, which I never really spoke about.’
In the early 2010s, Kelan told his father who ‘didn’t want to know’. When he approached his father, ‘it was like, “What did you want me to do about it now?” You know, like, “Now you need to get over it. What did you want me to do about it now?”’.
At about the same time as telling his father, Kelan made a statement to Victoria Police, and Hardy was charged and committed to stand trial. When Kelan gave evidence he was in a substance-affected state and refused to answer some questions put by the defence. Even though Hardy ‘getting off’ angered Kelan, he felt vindicated that ‘there was something being done about it’.
Kelan was able to have counselling for a short time, with money he received from a victims of crime payment. He spoke of encountering difficulties in the past few years because of his drug use and inability to pay various motor vehicle fines even though he’d tried ‘to get them in order’.
‘I have been taking drugs since I was pretty young. I think after I got married and moved away from all of it, I did stop drugs for quite a few years till it all came out again and then it all started again, the process.
‘I think it’s like taking something that keeps you going, and do I want to get off them when it keeps me going? Like, if I’m not on it, I’m in pain, and if I’m on it, I’m not. Being on it, you’re in a different state of mind, somehow you think your body needs it.
‘There are times when I would be in so much pain I couldn’t get out of bed, you know. It’s just my body, somehow, it’s just … it’s like paralysing in a way. Maybe that’s the result of taking drugs for such a long time.’