Actor and screen writer Nathan Spiteri was targeted, groomed and sexually abused at the age of 8-years of age in 1987, in his home town of Queanbeyan, NSW.
It was during the summer season that then 8-year old Nathan was first sexually abused at the Queanbeyan pool.
It all started when a man who was observing the pool, that Nathan and his friends were in, took an interest in Nathan for a reason that Nathan struggles to understand to this day.
Nathan reports that the man, in his early 40’s, followed him into the swimming pool change rooms -at the end of the day when people began leaving the pool to walk to the local hot chips takeaway shop.
“I dropped my towel on the way to the change room… He picked it up and slung it over his shoulder and followed me into the change rooms… He looked like any other middle-aged white man wearing a singlet and shorts”.
“People tend to think of sexual abuse as a one-off, violent event… But for me, this was just the beginning.”
What followed in that change room toilets left Nathan crying on the floor, bleeding.
The sexual-abuse continued over a three-year period. The abuse then later moved into the man’s home who lived only a few streets away from Nathan’s home- resulting in a cycle of violence.
He told me to meet him on certain dates and times or he would kill my family… I’d be on the main street with friends and he’d come and pick me up to go back to his place… No one questioned it. No one batted an eyelid. I guess because it was the 1980s and I went with him willingly”.
The bond between Nathan and the man became stronger from grooming and manipulation by them man.
Nathan says that the abuse was violent, “but they were different. I knew what to expect and put up less and less of a fight.”
About three-years after his first abuse from this man, one day Nathan discovered that the man had moved homes. “I was heartbroken, it’s hard to explain. It sounds unthinkable, but it was exactly like breaking up with someone you love.”
The next few teenage years left Nathan struggling- Nathan’s usual teenage sexual urges tended towards men whilst at the same time, he also maintained relationships with girls his age.
Nathan would visit strip clubs and cruise lounges to have sex with men while his friends stayed at home to study.
Nathan turned to drugs- and on occasions, become violent towards the men he would pick up at gay bars and clubs.
“It was always just the act of sex and feeling the feelings I had when I was younger. The violence came from needing to feel alive again- to get my power back… It wasn’t the men I picked up at clubs I wanted to hurt, it was the rapist who took everything away from me.”
I always knew I wanted a relationship with a woman. The intimacy, the love was always what I longed for with a woman. With men, it was just the act.”
Nathan came close to suicide. He eventually built up the courage to disclose this to friends and family. He commenced therapy sessions to address his addictions, and with family support, Nathan turned his life around.
He has now produced a screenplay, Toy Cars, outlining the sexual abuse and journey he went through- which was suggested by his psychologist as a form of therapy. This has surprisingly given Nathan some closure and the ability to share his story to help other people.
Nathan says that he wants parents of young children to watch his film, Toy Cars. He wants parents to be more aware about their children’s activities and behaviours if they notice any unusual acting out or withdrawing by them.
“Parents should ask the questions that need to be asked and at all times reassure their kids that they will be believed, they won’t be in trouble and it’s okay to tell them if something has happened… I know so many people will read this story and think, ‘I’ve known Nathan for so long. How could this have happened?’ and it’s the same question I’ve asked myself over and over.”
Statistics on Child Sexual Abuse
Majority of offenders of child sexual abuse are men, with victims mainly being females.
19% of about 28,000 cases were considered as child sexual abuse, with 74% of those victims being female.
Rate of sexual abuse for Australia is 1.1 per 1000 children between 0-16 years-of-age. The rate of sexual abuse in Australia’s Indigenous families was 2.0 per 1000 children aged between 0-16 years-of-age. This reflects an over-representation of the Australian Indigenous families in the nation child abuse statistics.
The Law and Penalties on Child Sexual Offences in NSW
In NSW, it is prohibited to groom or have sexual intercourse with a child (under 16-year old). NSW has heavy penalties which the courts strictly impose on offender convicted for child sex offences.
Anyone guilty of grooming a child for unlawful sexual activity in NSW can expect to face a penalty of up to 12-years imprisonment if the child is less than 14-years of age (section 66EB of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW)).
Anyone guilty of grooming a child for unlawful sexual activity in NSW will face a penalty of up to 10-years imprisonment if the child is under 16 but over 14-years of age.
A “child” is a person who is under 16-years of age.
An “adult” is a person who is at least 18-years of age.
A person accused of child grooming charges in NSW will be guilty only if police can prove, firstly that the child was under 16-year of age, in addition to either one of the following elements:
- The accused person exposed the child to indecent material. This includes via phone, internet- video clips of images; or
- The accused person gave the child intoxicating substances affecting his/her understanding or senses; or
- The accused person exposed the child to intoxicating substances so that it would be easier to use the child for unlawful sexual activity
For further details on this, see our blog for an outline on the defences to a child grooming charge in NSW.
It is a serious criminal offence to have sexual intercourse with anyone under 16-years of age in NSW, even if the child consents. (see section 66C of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW)).
A person guilty of having sexual intercourse with a child aged 14-15 years will face a penalty of up to 10-years imprisonment under section 66(3) of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).
A person guilty of having sexual intercourse with a child aged 10-13 years will face a penalty of up to 16-years imprisonment. The Judge sentencing a convicted offender for this offence will also be required to consider as a guidepost the ‘standard non-parole period’ of 7-years imprisonment. (section 66C(1) of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW)).
The 7 years ‘standard non-parole period’ is the minimum period of full-time prison that is suggested by Parliament that should be considered as a guide before the offender is eligible for release on parole -into the community. It only applies to cases that fall within the middle of the range of objective seriousness for this offence- which is assessed by looking into the period of offending, extent of manipulation, violence used and pre-meditation and planning plus many more factors.
A person guilty of having sexual intercourse with a child aged under 10 years will face a penalty of up to life imprisonment. If the sentencing Judge decides not to impose a life imprisonment sentence to a convicted offender for this offence, the Judge will then be required to consider, as a guidepost, the 15-years ‘standard non-parole period’ if the offence falls within the middle range of objective seriousness for this kind of offence. (section 66A of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW)).
A child sex offender, even if he/she ends up being released on parole after serving the non-parole period (minimum period of full-time custody) of his/her sentence will become a ‘registrable person’ on the child sex register- he/she will then be subject to conditions. He/she will also become a ‘disqualified person’ prohibiting any job involved with working with children.
For further details on this, see our blog on ‘What Happens After Being Convicted of a Child Sexual Offence?’
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