34. …and another!
I can’t remember the exact time or place I was when Mel called to tell me that her baby girl made a disclosure to her. All I remember is that I wasn’t shocked, surprised or stunned.
It was with a sense of resignation that I accepted the reality, that this man was the monster that I knew him to be and that chances were, he probably had victims all over the place.
As a result of this heartbreaking revelation, Mel became another person with whom my contact had to be limited as she and her family began the process of making statements, attending counselling and preparing for court. Her little girl, Tess, had just turned 4.
Following this disclosure. I called the Department of Community Services (DOCs) and wanted answers as to why they didn’t think it was important to do a risk assessment on every child that had ever been in Jen’s care. A sensible person would suggest that there was enough evidence to show that Leon was using Jen’s day care to find his own personal pool of victims.
The call didn’t go well. In a most patronising way, I was told that it wasn’t my place to make a call to them in this instance; that the department had been advised by the body in charge of Jen’s day care that there was no risk, as Jen was retired and that they had it under control.
My concern was for the mental health and well being of any victims prior to our kids. They didn’t get it. I was adamant that they had a duty of care to other families to ensure that they were aware of the potential that this could of happened to their children. My voice continued to go unheard.
In November 2014, I had a call from Sarah from Family and Community Services, formally known as DOCs. Sarah informed me that FACs had court ordered the body in charge of Jen’s day care to send letters to all families who had children in her care over the years. The letters were to inform them that a person, related to a person with whom their child had been in care, had been charged with Indecent assault and that, should they have any concerns over their child, they were to make contact with the relevant body to receive support.
Sarah sounded very pleased with this result. For me, I was unimpressed.
Sarah said “I thought you’d be happy with this outcome?”
I scoffed at Sarah. By this stage I was over the “system”. This was thirteen months down the track. Had I not spoken to Lucy and Mel, they may have still been in contact with Jen. I was the one who made sure that Tess and Teigan were safe. Not the department in charge of child protection.
Sarah asked me if I was okay. I unleashed on the poor girl.
I told her that she was thirteen months too late. I told her there was some suggestion that Leon had taken advantage of Teigan after he had been charged with the offences on my girls and that she and her department had to own that. I told her that they failed in their duty of care to other children who may have been victims because they were too caught up in the bureaucracy of the situation and going around in circles about who was responsible for what. I told her that I was made to put a “dark cloud over the heads of my friends” because of their inaction. I told her that it was unfair to put me in that situation.
I ranted…for a while.
After a pause, Sarah quietly said, “Are you receiving any counselling?”
I said, “Don’t be so fucking patronising”. And hung up the phone.
Poor Sarah. It’s not her fault that the system sucks.
As a result of the court order, a number of people received letters from the body in charge. Not all. I know that for a fact. I had a number of friends who didn’t receive these letters who had also used Jen to mind their children for various periods. The system let them down. I’m sure they were not the only ones.
I know that this was a difficult time for the people who oversaw Jen’s business. I know, because one of them told me once that “I had no idea how difficult it had been” for them. I responded that I probably had some idea, before walking away. People were very quick to ignore the humanity of the situation by getting caught up in the legality of it instead.
I don’t think that we’ll ever know how many victims Leon has had over the years. I don’t believe that mine were the first…I can only hope and pray that they will be his last.