In the part of Brisbane where Kelvin grew up, all the local kids went to scouts. ‘It was just one of those things all the parents put their kids into … It was a great time.’ The boys went abseiling, canyoning and hiking. Kelvin went through the whole program over the years – cubs, scouts and venturers. His father had a role in the local scouts troop.
However, for three years, Kelvin’s troop went through a very dark period. The very popular scoutmaster was replaced by a man called Steven Butler. The outdoorsy nature of the scouts disappeared and the camping became secondary. Instead Butler took the 14- and 15-year-old boys for driving lessons all weekend.
‘Everyone’d want to be in his good books so they’d get a turn to drive the car.’ Butler took them to sex shops, bought them junk food, cigarettes and alcohol. It was all ‘our secret’. Looking back later, Kelvin realised that it was grooming ‘on a massive scale’.
Kelvin’s father was dubious about Butler but he never explained why.
Butler also handpicked boys to go on patrol leaders’ camps. Kelvin was a patrol leader by then and one night Butler positioned himself in Kelvin’s tent. He started talking about sex. ‘It was a way for him to get his hand down my pants basically, where he kind of molested me … He wanted to sleep with me, cuddle up with me.’ Kelvin found it distressing but let it happen.
Kelvin also regularly went to a pinball parlour that was run by four men. They also took kids driving around to remote parts of town where they propositioned the boys for oral sex. The two groups of paedophiles were intertwined, Kelvin soon realised. ‘They all knew each other. And they all had dealings with each other.’
When Kelvin was 14, his father died. Butler convinced his mother, who was going through a difficult time, that he’d be a good father figure for Kelvin. ‘He was allowed open slather, to take me wherever he wanted on the weekends and week nights.’
Things then ramped up. ‘All the paedophiles moved in. They pushed in pretty hard.’ Kelvin found himself driving around and visiting various people with Steven Butler, people in high places, Kelvin realised. He was introduced to police officers and commissioners of scouts. He was given amyl nitrate, alcohol and cigarettes, and was shown pornography.
‘I felt like I was exalted from the rest of the gang, that I had this special knowledge and this special kind of insight into this kind of activity.’
At one stage he went to the house of a scout commissioner. ‘He spent a long time explaining to me that having sex between older men and young boys is just merely a way of sexual education, and that it was commonplace in other cultures.’ He told Kelvin that it should be done here in the west as well.
Kelvin was living in two radically different worlds. He was a private school boy by day, with mates and a girlfriend. But at night, ‘I’d go off with this guy and see things no one else would get to see and drive around and get gifts’.
Butler told Kelvin to stick with him, he’d show him the upper crust. It was ‘a world of paedophiles, a world of seduction and a world of grooming’. A world where alcohol and drugs were exchanged for sexual favours.
Things finally came to a halt one Sunday night. Butler had persuaded Kelvin’s mother to let him stay and look after her boys so that she could go on a well-deserved night out. He then raped Kelvin in his bedroom.
The next morning Kelvin stood in the shower in terrible pain, trying to get rid of the semen, while his mother stood outside the bathroom telling him to hurry up. It’s an image that haunts him daily. He remembers looking in the mirror as he pulled on his blazer, saying to himself, ‘I can handle this, I can handle this’.
After a few more incidents the tide had turned. ‘I hit that age. I was out of the league as far as grooming. He got what he wanted and then … he left the scouts for some reason.’
Another scoutmaster started, and a whole new chapter began. People’s suspicions about Butler were never discussed. ‘It was as though it had never happened.’
Kelvin had lost all interest in his school work. His experiences whirled around in his brain and he couldn’t focus. Nor did he have any great respect for authority after having a police officer give him amyl nitrate at a party.
Decades later, Kelvin acknowledges that his experience has imprinted itself upon him. ‘As much as you try and deny what you’ve done … it sinks through into your psyche.’
Much to his distress, Kelvin sometimes discloses his sexual abuse to people when he gets drunk.
Kelvin tried to find out about Butler, but all the scout records were lost in recent floods. He told the police about the paedophile ring. They said he’d have to come in and make a charge. He didn’t hear back from them.
Kelvin was keen to enrol his own son in the local scouts. After all, most of his years in scouts had been good ones. So he chatted to some scouts at a fair. Three weeks later he was told that the local scoutmaster had been charged with grooming.
‘Thirty-four years later and it’s still going on. And that’s what really burned me up … I take my son to the scouts and the first person I meet is a bloody groomer. I could have potentially handed my child over for the next round. Thirty-five years later. For God’s sake.’