During the early 1970s Nelson regularly attended a Police Boys Club in Sydney’s western suburbs, starting when he was around nine years old. He’d go to the centre ‘up to five nights a week after school ... a couple of my friends used to go with me, and we would all do various activities’.
Charlie, one of sports instructors at this club, sexually abused Nelson. This first happened in the car when they were driving to another club, and again when Charlie was driving Nelson home. Both times Charlie fondled Nelson’s penis, and asked if Nelson would like to do the same to him. Nelson told the Commissioner that he had felt guilty because he got an erection during this abuse, and this still bothers him.
Another instructor also inappropriately touched Nelson during wrestling in an open hall – ‘regularly grabbing you on the backside, and grabbing you on the genitals ... it definitely was inappropriate at the time, and didn’t feel comfortable’.
Even though the club was supervised by a police officer, ‘no one was stopping ‘em, and these guys were in authority’.
Despite encouragement from the instructors to attend weekend camps, he refused to go – feeling this was ‘dodgy’ and ‘not quite right’ – and later ‘heard horrifying stories of the abuse that children were subject to during these trips’. In his early teens, he stopped attending the club.
Although Nelson was too confused by what was happening to tell his parents at the time he finally started speaking about it as an adult, after another family member came forward about being sexually abused as a child in care. He remembers some of his siblings had experienced similar abuse at other extracurricular classes and advised their mother, but rather than reporting this to police they were simply removed from this activity.
Nelson is very protective of his children, and has issues with trust. His wife knows about the abuse he experienced, and he has not felt the need for counselling – ‘I’m fine’. He has never applied for any compensation or reported the instructors who abused him to police, but would be willing to make a statement if they could be identified.