The Second Case Study (Or: Tell Us Something We Don’t Already Know)

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The second round of hearings by the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has begun at its Sydney headquarters. It continues to take a “case study” approach whereby a single, well-documented case, which has been through the courts, is used to identify weaknesses in institutional responses and to formulate possible improvements to procedures.

The case used in this hearing is that of YMCA child care employee, Jonathan Lord (pictured below), who was jailed last year for abusing 12 boys in his care, including under the YMCA’s child minding service, and through his private business activity. Lord is due for consideration for parole in 2018. The details of the Lord case have been given in an earlier posting of this blog.

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Image: Jonathan Lord (Source: Sydney Morning Herald)

The apparent focus of the hearing involves not just the failure of the YMCA to detect Lord’s behaviour, but also to scrutinize the grooming process he used. This grooming behaviour is to be regarded as including his behaviours towards parents and other staff, as well as towards his many victims. A matter of obvious concern is that he was so proficient at such an early age, barely into adulthood. A burning question might well be whether he was a “natural” or whether he had obtained advice from more experienced abusers, for example, by way of on-line forums.

The YMCA claims it had checked out Lord’s Australian references, but was not aware that he had been asked to leave a similar position with the YMCA in the U.S. over allegations of inappropriate behaviour. Like many young Australians, he had worked as a “counselor” in the U.S. under their system of “camps” where children live during the long summer school holidays. Given the established nature of the system in the U.S., it would be assumed that authorities there have extensive experience in how to weed out people like Lord. Unfortunately, there did not seem to be a process in place for alerting authorities in Australia about our nationals who posed problems during their U.S. stay.

As with the churches, there was the usual apology given through an expensive lawyer, with accompanying claims that procedures were much better now. An unusual addition was the claim by the YMCA that their other staff members were also “victims” of Lord.

Academics in the child trauma and similar fields would be interested in, and would have definite things to say about, the two items tended as evidence. These were a drawing and list of concerns made by children, about their impressions of Lord. They are given below.

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Source: The Courier-Mail

As Lord’s victims are still children, the long term effects on them will not be known for  many years, but some hint of the problems can be gained from drawings such as those tended as evidence to the enquiry.

[Postscript: The report of the NSW government enquiry was due on 30th. September this year, but has been delayed to next year, possibly in March. The Victorian state Parliamentary enquiry report was also due on 30th September, but has been delayed to later this year, probably 21st. November.]

Read more here:

TOMORROW: The YMCA defence

That’s all I can say

Lewis Blayse (né Lewin Blazevich)

 

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