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Peggy Louise's story

Peggy had a happy childhood in regional South Australia, and became very involved with a local sports club in the 1980s. She told the Commissioner that she was quite competitive and sport ‘was my absolute passion’. She had ambitions to compete at state level or higher, but these diminished after she was sexually abused by one of the adult members of the club.

‘He was a sleazebag. That’s what everyone called him … People even said back then, you know, he was quite a womaniser … especially with a few beers … I don’t know how many people, once I finally came out with what had happened … had said to me, “Well, about time someone said something”.’

Despite his reputation, no one ever reported Brian to the authorities. Peggy told the Commissioner, ‘He’s a serial, I’d say, monster. He’s an absolute monster. He’s an absolute predator. It’s only me that’s come out about what he’s done’.

Brian sexually abused Peggy on numerous occasions, but one assault occurred when Peggy was sitting on Brian’s lap in the club room. ‘The way that was done was so brazen, in front of people and everything … To do something like that, he’s done it before and he’s probably done it many times.’

Peggy told her mother about the assault in the club room when they got home, ‘but she brushed it off and said that, “Oh, he touches everyone’s bottom” and I’m pretty sure I told her that it wasn’t just touched. She just didn’t want to know … And I’ll never understand it, and I’ll always still be upset with her. I just don’t understand how you could ignore it, but she did’.

Peggy was shocked when Brian arrived at their house later that night. ‘He’d been drinking a lot, as they all did back then … He was coming to have another try.’

When Brian went into Peggy’s bedroom and tried to abuse her for the second time that day, she ‘got the courage up to say, “No, no, no” and I started to hyperventilate and … he said, “I thought that’s what you wanted”, so he sort of passed back the guilt, like I was inviting him to you know … I was 12 … I just had no idea, no idea. Hadn’t seen a penis in my life or anything. Just very innocent’.

Years later Peggy confronted Brian at a community event and said to him, ‘You’re a disgusting paedophile’. When he replied, ‘You didn’t tell me to stop’, Peggy slapped him across the face. The friend Peggy was with overheard someone comment, ‘About time someone did that to him’.

Peggy told the Commissioner that the abuse ‘harmed me as a person, as a whole … When the main event happened to me, from then on I was always on edge, so I was always in flight mode. So if I was at the … club or I was at a [competition], that man was always there, and so I was constantly watching my back’.

As a teenager, Peggy began to experience emotional issues. ‘I didn’t know what anxiety was back then. I do know now, because I’ve had to deal with it ever since, but I … used to get a sore chest with my heart racing so hard … I actually started having panic attacks at about 13.’

Peggy’s schoolwork suffered and she developed serious eating disorders. By Year 12, ‘I’d be drinking alcohol and things like that, although no one knew, because I … looked good and I was really fit … but underneath I was dying’. Although Peggy gained a place at university, she did not achieve the marks required to enrol in her first career choice.

Peggy reported the abuse to the police in the early 2000s, but decided not to pursue the matter. It was not until the early 2010s that she was able to find the strength to provide a statement. The case went to court, but the trial was delayed when the location had to be changed, because most of those selected for jury duty knew the defendant.

Although both Peggy and the police were aware of other victims, no one else was prepared to make a statement against Brian, and he was found not guilty. ‘I was shocked … I got really angry and … then I just cried for hours … I couldn’t be consoled.’

Despite the outcome, Peggy told the Commissioner, ‘I just felt so empowered to be sitting up on that stand … I’m glad I did it … but I’m still very disappointed that he gets to walk free … I might have some issues because of it, but I’m a survivor … I just want children to be protected … People are very aware and they know his name and they know he went to court … It was an amazing thing to see him sitting in that glass and to think, “I’ve got you here now, and I’m going to tell my story”’.

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