Growing up in the late 60s and early 70s Levon always enjoyed going to the Anglican church near his home on coast south of Sydney. And while he spent a bit of time in cubs and scouts, he was more involved in the local chapter of the Anglican boys’ group.
Levon said the leaders of the group had decided to operate it independently, so it was only loosely affiliated with others around the country. ‘I guess it was a bit like scouts; that those who feel they want to lead a group can put their hand up and get some sort of approval from whoever else.’
In the late 70s Levon went on a weekend camp with a group of boys from other groups. He was soon befriended by one of the visiting leaders, a man he remembers only as Frank.
In a statement he brought to the Royal Commission Levon said, ‘It was a Friday, Saturday night during the weekend that he invited himself into my confidence, and my tent, and attempted to have sex with me. Asking me to let him put his penis between my legs and rub up and down. Oral sex was also involved, and during this time he attempted to have me do similar more times during the weekend.
‘There wasn’t any threat or anything else. I said no to that and he allowed that to be a no which, looking back, I was just bloody lucky …
‘I believe, in hindsight, that Frank had done this many times to lots of other boys. And I believe that because he was able to get my confidence so quickly. Within hours of meeting me he’d gained my trust, and manipulated me enough to be able to come into my tent.
‘And I was 14. He’d never met me before.’
Levon stayed in the boys’ group but never saw Frank again. He’d been very unhappy at school for a long time and left at the end of Year 10.
He tried so hard to block out the memories of the sexual abuse, he only became aware of its impact as he got older. ‘Looking back I can only say that there was shame. Guilt. Disbelief. Not wanting it to happen again. All sorts of questions – “Am I a poof? Am I homosexual? Is that the direction my life should be going?” All sorts of stuff like that …
‘An impact that I did have from this was that, on a cadet camp, me and another schoolkid … experimented. Didn’t have sex as such but oral sex. And that was … not appropriate. I look back and regret that. And again, that was on a camp. And I think that never would’ve happened if this hadn’t happened.
‘There’s been nothing since. I haven’t gone out and bashed anyone. If I found this guy I’d probably like to. But I haven’t actively looked for him, either.
‘I’m bigger and stronger now.’
In the late 80s Levon studied for a career in healthcare. He never lost his faith and also worked in a church outreach program. ‘Helping people was all it was. That’s an ingrained desire of mine, just to help people.’
Levon never reported the sexual abuse to police or the Church, ‘or to my parents or to anybody else, for about 36 years’.
In his statement he wrote, ‘I didn’t report it because I felt fear that I’d be seen as dirty, or be labelled, be talked about, have to explain why. I didn’t want to be seen as different, I didn’t want to be judged’.
It was only recently that Levon was able to tell his wife.
He told the Commissioner that counselling didn’t work for him. ‘I play it in my mind, the scenario of it, and I go and I talk to somebody and I pull my guts up and they go, “Oh gee, that must have been really bad for you. See you later”. What can they actually say? No one can fix it. No one can change it. No one can make it feel better.
‘I understand that I haven’t done anything about it for 36 years. I’ve lived with it and stuffed it down deep inside and tried not to have it impact the rest of my life. I know other people can’t do that and it does impact their lives. I feel that mine was minor; however, I felt, I still felt that I wanted to come and talk to you about it in person.
‘I wanted to tell my story here, because I felt safe to do so with you guys. As awful as your job must be, to hear all these awful things that have happened to so many kids ... I just want it to stop.
‘I would like to see something happen. I would like that young people have the information to say that things like that aren’t natural, and aren’t necessary. And shouldn’t be tolerated. And the equipment for them to be able to say, “Get stuffed, piss off, don’t touch me”.
‘If I could see a poster up like that, unreal.’