Australia’s Royal Commission into child sexual abuse was told that the girl contracted HIV from her attacker. Photo posed by model. Photo / iStock
An eight-year-old girl was allegedly raped by her soccer coach, sometimes while the man’s wife was in the same room, Australia’s Royal Commission into child sexual abuse has heard.
The girl was later diagnosed with HIV, which she claims she contracted from the coach of the team in southern Sydney.
The allegations were heard today as part of the inquiry into how sporting organisations respond to allegations of sexual abuse of children.
In a statement, read out to the commission by another person, the alleged victim known as BXA explained the horrors she claims to have endured as a child.
The now 27-year-old woman was too distressed to give evidence in person but her statement said her mother, who had a drinking and drug problem at the time, allowed her to stay at the coach’s home after soccer, training, on weekends and during school holidays.
“At the beginning the coach and his wife were very nice,” BXA said.
“They were touchy-feely … I felt it was too much touching and a bit creepy.
“The first time the coach raped me was a Friday night.”
BXA then said he would abuse her every time she stayed over at his house.
She said the wife would often be there in the room.
“She would either be laying on the bed or somewhere in the room. His wife would say to me ‘it’s OK” and “it’s all right’.”
BXA said the wife would often come into the spare room where she was sleeping and take her back to the coach’s bedroom “and stay in the room while he raped me”.
The alleged victim said she did not tell her mother because she thought she would be blamed for causing trouble.
In March 2003, shortly before her 15th birthday, she was diagnosed with HIV. Doctors told her that she probably had it for “quite a few years”, she said.
BXA said she had never had a boyfriend or a blood transfusion since the alleged rapes.
“I believe I got HIV from the coach,” she said.
Earlier, the inquiry heard the allegation of abuse only came to light after the girl handed a note to a classmate which said at she was “raped in year 3 but no one knows”.
In November 1999 she wrote the note, but it was intercepted by a teacher who informed DOCS.
Counsel Assisting Gail Furness at the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse. Photo / Getty Images
The coach was charged, but he was found not guilty by the Campbelltown District Court in May 2001.
BXA told the commission that police advised her that there was not enough evidence to convict the coach.
“In relation to all the things that have happened to me I feel I have not been offered enough to support,” BXA said.
Her statement said she now has difficulty holding down a job due to ill health, has self harmed and finds it difficult to form relationships with men. She said sports clubs should do police background checks on all their staff and volunteers.
Earlier, in her opening address counsel assisting the commission, Gail Furness, also said evidence would be heard about allegations of sexual abuse of a 14-year-old female player by prominent elite tennis coach Noel Callaghan between 1997 and 1998.
Callaghan was the director of tennis and head coach at the Australian Tennis Academy in Queensland. He coached the alleged victim at Sydney’s White City tennis centre.
Ms Furness said evidence would be heard how Tennis NSW, Tennis Australia and the NSW Institute of Sport handled the complaints of abuse.
Ms Furness said in December 2002 that Soccer NSW was told that parents had claimed that the coach had also “inappropriately touched” other children in the same club.
After his charges of sexual abuse were dismissed the coach said that he wanted to continue coaching and refereeing, but that was rejected by Soccer NSW.
In 2004 the soccer coach pleaded guilty to a charge of sexual abuse against a different child under 10 years and a charge of aggravated indecent assault upon a third child, each taking place in 2002. He was sentenced to four years jail, increased to five years under appeal.
Ms Furness also detailed allegations of sexual abuse of three boys, one as young as nine years old, by a cricket coach in rural Queensland.
Some of the nation’s leading sporting bodies will come under the spotlight over the next two weeks.
Organisations with legal representation today include Tennis Australia, Cricket Australia, Football NSW, Football Federation Australia, Queensland Cricket and the Australian Sports Commission.
Australian Olympic boss John Coates will give evidence about how Olympic sporting organisations protect children from sexual abuse.
The hearings kicked off with legal argument about Mr Callaghan seeking anonymity. It was refused.
Ms Furness said Mr Callaghan was NSW state coach when he began coaching the witness known as BXJ in 1995, when she was 14.
The teenager alleged that he made rude comment and asked her personal questions about her sexual practices. On one occasion he told her “if you lose this rally then you will have to give me a b … job”.
She also accused Mr Callaghan of putting his hand on her thigh in a taxi, entering her room at a tennis camp and straddling her on the bed and trying to kiss her, and touched her breast.
The girl ended up dropping out of tennis, became depressed and began using drugs.
Ms Furness said the girl’s mother will give evidence that she complained about the abuse to a female coach and that coach revealed she too had been abused by Mr Callaghan when she was a junior player.
Ms Furness said Mr Callaghan faced three sets of legal proceedings in the past. He was acquitted in one, found not guilty in another and in another he was discharged.