An alleged paedophile continued to coach children’s soccer for years after being charged with the rape of an eight-year-old girl, who was later diagnosed with HIV, a royal commission has heard.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse heard the man was charged with raping the girl in 2000 but was not banned from coaching soccer until 2003.
The girl, now 27, told the commission she was treated like a liar after giving evidence against him in court.
She gave a harrowing account of her abuse on the opening day of the inquiry into child sexual abuse at sporting clubs.
The woman’s statement, which was read to the commission by a friend, detailed how happy she was to join a Sydney soccer club in 1996 at the age of eight.
Evidence before the commission is that the soccer coach took a “fatherly” interest in her, inviting her to his family home for sleepovers.
The commission heard the coach would repeatedly rape her, sometimes when his wife was in the same room.
“I was in a lot of pain,” she said in her statement. “I remember crying and telling the coach it was hurting me. I remember him saying it would relax me.”
The woman, given the pseudonym BXA, quit soccer and did not tell her mother about the abuse initially because, “I didn’t want to get the blame for causing trouble”.
The commission heard a teacher discovered the abuse in 2000 and reported it to the Department of Community Services, which contacted the police, who arrested the coach.
BXA described her devastation when the coach was found not guilty of raping her.
“I felt like it was his story against the evidence of an eight-year-old who didn’t tell her mum, who’s a liar basically,” she said.
Shortly after turning 15, BXA was diagnosed with HIV, which she believes was a result of the abuse, the commission heard.
“I live with a constant reminder of the abuse every single day of my life because of the HIV,” she said.
Head of child protection with Football NSW Michelle Hanley told the commission she became aware of allegations against the coach at the end of 2002, after parents complained he had “inappropriately touched” children over a period of 12-24 months.
She told the commission that when she discovered he’d also been the subject of rape allegations she moved to suspend him.
The commission heard the coach was charged with sexual offences relating to other children in 2004. He pleaded guilty to the assaults, which occurred in 2002, and was sentenced to five years’ jail.
Counsel assisting the commission Gail Furness SC said the commission would also examine allegations that high profile tennis coach Noel Callaghan molested three young female players, asking one for oral sex.
Mr Callaghan, who continues to coach overseas, was charged with offences relating to the three players but never convicted, the commission heard.
The commission is also expected to hear evidence about a Queensland cricket coach who allegedly abused boys as young as nine.
The coach, Robert Ross, was charged with more than 50 child sex offences in 2014 but committed suicide before the matter went to court.
The hearing, before Justice Peter McClellan, continues.
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