Patti's story

Patti wishes to speak out strongly on behalf of her older sister Beth and her niece Eloise. Both have now died.

Violence fuelled by alcohol was a huge problem on the Aboriginal reserve where Patti started life in the 1970s. Her mother became addicted to alcohol and Patti and her siblings were placed into care while very young. Patti believes her sister Beth was sexually abused by her foster carers at that time.

A ‘saviour’ appeared in the form of Steven Mosely. Mosely became Patti’s mother’s partner. ‘He promised her he would get her children back under one condition’, Patti told the Commissioner. ‘She was to stop drinking alcohol.’ She agreed and the family was reunited under one roof in another town.

‘But now looking back on our lives Steven had other motives for Mum to do this.’

He immediately began abusing both Patti and Beth. The abuse continued for a decade. Beth tried to disclose the abuse to a teacher at school one morning. She was told to ‘go away with your lies’.

When Beth tried to take her own life, aged eight, no one thought to ask her what was driving her to despair. Eventually Beth managed to tell a neighbour what was happening in the house. The neighbour called the police and Mosely was arrested. He served time in jail for the sexual assault of Beth. No one from the police or the Department of Community Services asked Patti if she was also a victim. Beth was made a state ward and did not return home.

Patti was indeed a victim. When Mosely was released from prison he was allowed to return to the family home. He began abusing Patti again, worse than before.

Late one night when she was 10 Patti ran to the local police station to report Mosely. ‘I went to the police house and called out for help. The policeman came to the door. I was crying and upset. I told him that my stepfather had been abusing me, but he told me to “get back home” and would not even open the door. He yelled at me and I felt very lost, thinking that if the police wouldn’t help me, who would?’

In her early teens her sister Beth ran away from her foster carers and ended up homeless on the streets of the city. Beth began using drugs and became a child prostitute to support herself. ‘This led on to a self-destructive life of drugs, overdoses and numerous attempts to commit suicide by slashing her wrists.’ She gave birth to a daughter, Eloise.

Beth returned to the country with her child but was not accepted back into her old community.

‘Depression set in … She told me how she wanted to slash her face with a razor blade, because she hated being beautiful and thought people would accept her more if she wasn’t attractive.’

Eventually Beth returned to the city, leaving Eloise with her mother. Patti believes Eloise was sexually abused by Steven Mosely at this time.

An opportunity for a more settled life arose for Beth in the city when she was 16. After a few years she reclaimed Eloise and brought the toddler to live with her. Beth fell ill however and had to go to hospital. Officers from DOCS offered to have Eloise cared for in a foster family for a few days while Beth recovered, and Beth agreed.

Eloise was four years old. Also staying with the foster family was a teenager, Rufus Lang. One night Lang took Eloise from the house. He raped and murdered the little girl. Police arrested Lang, who readily confessed and led them to Eloise’s body.

The policemen found Beth in hospital.

‘As Beth lay on her hospital bed the detectives told her what had happened. Beth let out a horrible scream. She was placed on suicide watch.’

‘I couldn’t imagine what my poor sister was feeling or thinking … On hearing of Eloise’s death it felt like a truck had slammed into me at high speed.’

Later on Patti learnt more about the murderer, Rufus Lang. The foster parents looking after Rufus had not been told about his past. ‘Rufus had been a ward of the state since he was an infant and he had an extensive record of sexually abusing children.’ Patti is still bewildered by the negligence of DOCS. They had known Lang’s record but they kept the foster family ignorant and placed little Eloise into the same home as Lang.

Beth’s life spiralled downward after the death of her daughter. Her drug addiction became worse. Early in the new century ‘Beth passed away … as a result of her long term drug abuse and, I believe, of a broken heart’.

Patti has also had a difficult life, marred by her own experience of abuse. ‘Things I could’ve done with my life I just couldn’t reach … I feel cheated.’

‘[Beth] never held grudges or hated anyone … I came to understand why Beth used drugs and made the decisions that she did … I too would’ve wanted to escape reality.’

‘I am here today to be Beth’s and Eloise’s voice in the hope that their story is not forgotten. And it never happens to another innocent child.’

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