Montgomery believes his sons are in trouble and feels powerless to help them.
Oscar and Nathan were born early in the new century. Their mother was an alcoholic and before the children were of school age they were taken into care by the Queensland Department of Child Safety. Montgomery has not been allowed to raise his boys and has health problems of his own.
The children were placed in various foster homes; by the mid-2000s they were living in north Queensland with Robyn Leary. Montgomery feels let down by the Child Safety officers. ‘I said to them, “There’s something wrong with this woman. She stated that she hated men, in my home”.’ He was reassured that Leary was ‘well-respected’ and a minister in an evangelical church. Montgomery asked that Oscar and Nathan be raised as Anglicans, but his request was ignored. ‘That was the end of it. Full stop.’
A few years later Montgomery was called by a department official. He was told Oscar and Nathan had been sexually abused. Images of the boys being abused had been discovered after the arrest of a paedophile. The videos had already been placed on the internet, Montgomery was told.
Montgomery could get little further information from the Department of Child Safety, or the police. ‘What were they doing in his care, when they were supposed to be in Robyn Leary’s care?’ It isn’t clear if the paedophile, who was sent to prison, was the abuser or just a distributor of the material.
‘I don’t even know the full extent of what happened to my children. I don’t know where he’s connected to her, or maybe he’s in the church with her? I don’t know. I can’t get any information whatsoever.’
When Montgomery saw the boys they would not talk about what had happened to them. After the abuse came to light Oscar and Nathan were removed from Robyn Leary’s care and placed with another foster family.
‘And it didn’t stop there. They took the children out of her care. But when I saw the children you might as well put them in a brown paper bag there on the shelf – terrified, you couldn’t touch ‘em.’
‘I said, “What’s going on?” … Oscar said, “Dad, that lady is still seeing us”.’
Robyn Leary was visiting the boys regularly. Montgomery contacted Child Safety again. ‘I said, “What is that woman doing approaching my children after all this?” Wrecked their lives. I said, “What are you doing?”’ The department officers insisted there was no problem, but Montgomery threatened to get a restraining order against Leary. Eventually the visits stopped.
In the years since Montgomery has applied for legal aid in an attempt to get more information from Child Safety and the police about his boys’ abuse. Legal aid has been refused. ‘I can’t get any details. All I get told is “confidential information”. That’s all I get.’
Oscar and Nathan are still in care but have now been separated and live with different foster parents. They are a long way from Montgomery, who rarely sees them now. His health is failing and he worries that his sons aren’t getting the help they need after the trauma they have suffered.
‘Oscar – it’s all bottled up in here.’ Montgomery pats his chest as he speaks. ‘And I’m just worried when he gets to 18 or 19 – and he’s a solid little boy – that explosion comes out, what do I do?’
‘I probably won’t be here but he’s going to suffer anyway.’