‘He told us, he said, “If you ever tell anybody what’s going on here”, he said, “I’ll kill you and I’ll kill your brother”.’
When Taylor was four years old, he and his brother Dean were fostered from an orphanage into the care of Sydney couple, Jim and Dawn Hudson. Three years later, in the 1960s, welfare worker John Cassidy was assigned as caseworker to look in on Taylor and Dean, and within a short period he was a regular guest at the dinner table. Cassidy offered to help the Hudsons in caring for the boys and suggested Taylor and Dean stay at his home on weekends.
Cassidy lived in a one bedroom unit, and from the outset he’d take the boys into his bed, separately and together, and fondle their genitals. Taylor believed Cassidy’s threats, particularly as the abuse escalated to rape.
‘It went on for about six years’, Taylor said. ‘All the threats. When I got home after a period there, my mother found blood in my underpants. She told my father and he asked me how it got there and I told him John Cassidy was doing dirty things. And all he did was told me I was nothing but a troublemaker and flogged me and sent me to my room.
‘Obviously, the next time I saw John Cassidy, my father must have said something to him, cause he grabbed me by the throat and started choking me and told me, said, “What’d I say to you? You ever told anybody, I’ll kill you”. And from that day on I just pretty much shut down inside I think. He just kept doing, repeatedly raped me.’
Taylor told the Commissioner the abuse continued until he was 14 and he left school and got a job. ‘I was a bit disruptive at school’, he said. ‘I couldn’t concentrate because of what had happened to me. I just shut down. I didn’t want to be at school. John Cassidy used to come and take me, primary school and high school. He’d just turn up. They knew he was a welfare officer checking on us, so he’d just come and take me and do his thing in the bush or in his car and bring me back to the school. Eventually I started wagging school. I’d see him pull into the school car park and I’d be gone.’
Later in life, Taylor ‘turned to drugs and alcohol’, as did Dean. The brothers didn’t ever speak about the abuse, because they ‘weren’t game enough’. Another boy, Jeremy, had also lived with the Hudsons for several years and had been abused by Cassidy. As an adult Jeremy ‘got into the drugs really bad’ and died after being given a ‘hot-shot’ by some dealers to whom he owed money.
As well as telling his foster father about the abuse, Taylor had gone as a 12-year-old to a Sydney police station to report Cassidy, but the policeman there knew his foster father and drove Taylor home without taking any other action. Taylor wasn’t sure whether he’d want to try again to report Cassidy, but thought he might if it was a group action rather than ‘one-on-one’.
In the 2010s, after the deaths of Jim and Dawn Hudson, Taylor disclosed the abuse to a solicitor who was managing his foster parents’ estate. The solicitor told him he had a strong case for legal action but said he’d need to get counselling first. Taylor had heard Cassidy had been sacked as welfare officer, but had subsequently got a job in a boys’ home.
‘Emotionally this has pretty much destroyed my life’, Taylor said. ‘I get very emotional. I’m off the drugs now but I’ve used. He’s cost me a good education. My wife actually told me I needed to get help. I tried to commit suicide when I was probably in my late 20s and it just happened that she walked in as I was about to shoot myself. She pulled the gun out of my hands. She knows something’s wrong. We’ve been married for 37 years. She’s been a good wife. She wanted to come today but I didn’t bring her …
‘My wife told me, she’s been telling me for 37 years that the nightmares I have, she said, “You’ve got deep-seated problems”, which I need to do something about. Since it’s all come to light with the Royal Commission, I thought, there’s no time like the present. Since I’ve been having counselling I haven’t had any nightmares so it’s been good.’