‘I’ve got no skeletons in my closet,’ Kevin told the Commissioner. He was happy to tell his story, even though it ‘ends up a nightmare’.
Kevin’s family attended a Jehovah’s Witnesses Church in Queensland in the 1970s. From his early teens he and his family were groomed by Peter Saxby, a district overseer in the Church. While his dad was off doing night work, Saxby got friendlier with his mother. He started to take Kevin away on different errands here and there. After a while, this became the norm.
‘This mongrel, Peter Saxby, weaseled his way into our family.’
Saxby left new clothes for Kevin in his bedroom, promised to buy him a new car, and to get him privileged work in the Church.
The sexual abuse started when Kevin was 14. Saxby was concerned that his ‘undercarriage’ may have been damaged while he was riding his bicycle.
‘So he put his hand down and felt me and said “Yes, that’s what I was afraid of”.’
Saxby took Kevin on Bible study trips. During these trips they showered together and slept in the same bed. Saxby kissed Kevin and played with his penis. On one occasion, he attempted to rape him.
The more time Kevin spent with Saxby, the less he could confide in his parents. ‘They were sarcastic to me.’ It was just expected he’d go with Saxby whenever he wanted.
The sexual abuse continued for years. Eventually, when Kevin was 20, someone saw Saxby kissing him and reported it to the Church elders.
Kevin was hugely relieved. ‘Because now this nightmare was going to come to its end and this Peter Saxby was going to get what he deserved.’
Kevin then gave testimony to the six elders. Minutes were taken during the meeting. But at no stage were his parents told to inform the police. Nor was the meeting kept confidential -‘the whole of New South Wales and Queensland knew’.
But the elders believed Kevin and so Peter Saxby was ‘disfellowshipped’. This meant that he couldn’t speak to, or be spoken to by, a fellow Jehovah’s Witness. But he could stay in the same congregation and he could attend meetings.
Kevin is sure the elders had prior knowledge of Saxby’s offending. He’d heard through the Church grapevine that he’d been disfellowshipped five or six times before for the same reason. But no one had warned Kevin.
‘And I think that stinks … They should have gone to my parents and told them not to have anything to do with him.’
Kevin stayed with the Jehovah’s Witnesses Church. Years later, after watching Saxby get reinstated and continue grooming boys, he’d had enough.
‘This guy didn’t learn his lesson. He just kept on finding different boys. That was his only reason to be at the meetings. With his big fancy answers and giving away clothing, taking them on trips, buying them new cars here and there.’
In his early forties Kevin walked into a local police station and reported Saxby. He wasn’t asked to make a statement. He was told that the police had no proof, and so no charges were laid.
Kevin started seeing a good counsellor a few years later. ‘He got a lot of monkeys off my shoulder.’ What led him to counselling? ‘It cost me one wife after 12 years of marriage.’
He himself had been disfellowshipped for ‘loose conduct’ but said it was the best thing to happen to him. He was no longer subject to the gossip, slander and cronyism of the Church. His mental health improved immediately.
Kevin loves Jehovah. He attempted to go back to Church meetings several months ago but the elders are ‘hell bent’ on keeping him out. He was also pushed away from his own family.
He is keen to see the Jehovah’s Witnesses Church held accountable for their nepotism and mishandling of abuse cases.
‘If I could lead brothers and sisters to come to courts right around Australia, speak up about their nightmare experiences and clean this organisation out. Because they’re just about money.’