Kristine attended a small state school in Queensland in the early 1980s. Mark Allen was initially employed as a relief teacher at the school, before gaining full-time employment. Kristine remembers him as a popular teacher.
At the time, Kristine did not know that Mr Allen had been suspected of sexually abusing girls at the Anglican school where he had been teaching. Instead of reporting him, the headmaster at this school gave him a glowing reference, and showed him the door.
Kristine believes that Allen was able to get away with sexually abusing children because ‘he pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes. He was a religious man, like he went to church every weekend. He … took kids away … to teach ‘em how to bushwalk … He befriended all the mothers. He wasn’t hideously ugly, so you know, did the old charm … He befriended everybody’.
Kristine told the Commissioner that one day, after her parents had separated, she and her mother ran into Allen at the local shopping centre. When he asked if Kristine wanted to go shopping with him, her mother allowed her to go, believing that they would be close by. Instead, Allen ‘took me home, to his place. Mum didn’t know. So that’s sort of how he worked. He did befriend us all and then, “Oh, I’ll just take her shopping”, but we never went shopping’.
This was the first of many occasions that Allen sexually abused Kristine. The abuse continued at school and other locations, until Kristine was 18. Kristine told the Commissioner that she didn’t report the abuse because ‘he threatened to hurt Mum … Basically he just told me that she could disappear’. When the two of them were walking in the bush, he told Kristine how easy it would be to get rid of a body.
The abuse had an impact on Kristine’s behaviour. She told the Commissioner, ‘Back when I was smaller … I was a very shy kid, and I felt that I needed to step up and protect everybody. I then became a loudmouth and ran amok and you know, teenage years I did go wild because I figured it didn’t matter anymore. It was not like I was going to be the pure bride or anything like that. So I did run amok’.
As an adult, Kristine has had ‘five relationships … because I was abused, I feel a lot of the time that sex isn’t intimate, it’s a chore, which then affects the relationship’.
Kristine told the Commissioner that she came very close to becoming an alcoholic at one point, and she has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. She also has trust issues, which made things difficult when raising her children. ‘You’re always … “Is that him? Is that one”?’ She has tried counselling, but has found it doesn’t work for her.
Kristine believes that she was able to deal with what happened to her because, ‘I have a very strong personality now … I used to be shy … I’m very opinionated. I’m strong … Instead of looking at everything that happened as “Woe is me”, I go, “Okay, well that happened to me, ‘cause that one couldn’t deal with it, but I can”. So I just basically got strong I suppose … [It] took a while’.
The abuse only stopped when another girl from Kristine’s school told her own mother that Allen had abused her. This mother phoned Kristine’s mother to ask if Kristine had been abused. When the police approached Kristine she denied the abuse had taken place, but after a couple of days, she changed her mind. ‘I have nothing bad to say about that detective. He was brilliant … He was great’.
Allen was charged with sexually abusing both girls and pleaded guilty. The judge gave him a lighter sentence because he had served in the defence forces. ‘I don’t agree with that. I don’t care what you do, who you are. If you are going to break the law, you break the law.’
Kristine was disappointed with the sentence that Allen received and told the Commissioner, ‘To be honest with you, I don’t think that sexual abuse on children is taken seriously in the court system’.
When Kristine applied for compensation from the Anglican Diocese for supplying the reference that helped Allen gain employment at her school, ‘The only thing I can remember is I felt that the Anglican Diocese bloke … was very arrogant … I wanted to smack him … I really wanted to smack him … It wasn’t about the money, but the whole feel of it was like it was, I was the one being judged’.
Kristine was unaware at the time that the girl who came forward was being abused by Allen, but ‘when I got a little older, because it went on for years … I suspected other girls … I believe, definitely, there was other girls’.
Kristine only applied for compensation in an effort to change the laws about child sexual abuse. She found other girls who had been abused by Allen, to try to keep him in jail for longer, but no one else would come forward.
Kristine asked the Commissioner, ‘All of us coming forward and stuff … is there going to be an end result? Or is it just, at the end of the day, everybody’ll just go, “Oh well, it happened. We came here. See youse later”? … It’d be great if something can get done’.