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Robert John Brown – Institutional Child Sexual Abuse

In 1985, Robert John Brown was an 18-year-old man who was allowed to take a leadership position in Belair Baptist Church’s youth group and Boys Brigade. This role placed him in contact with a then 11-year-old boy who would become his victim.

Former Youth Group Leader Groomed His Victim

What exactly is grooming? Grooming occurs when a predator finds a way to befriend and create a connection with a child to establish trust, gain access to the child, and coerce them into agreeing to the abuse.

These manipulative behaviours are also used to create a trusting relationship with the child’s family and community to reduce suspicion and risk.

Examples of grooming may include:

  • Touching: Predators will frequently test boundaries when it comes to touch. It is often a slow process, with the first inappropriate touches easily dismissed as “accidental”.
  • Intimidation: This may present as the predator testing a child’s reaction to being blamed for something. Common phrases that a child will hear include “No one will believe you.” or “You should be ashamed.”. Abusers use fear and shame to keep their victims silent.
  • Sharing Sexually Explicit Materials: The sharing of these materials is a method that abusers use to normalize sex. Communication could occur in person or electronically.

Robert Brown used many grooming tactics to gain the trust of church leaders, his victim’s family, and his victim.

Victim Speaks Out About How Robert Brown Assaulted Him As A Child

Now an adult, the victim of Robert Brown has spoken publicly about how the abuse began and how it has impacted his life.

Brown earned the trust of church officials and his victim’s parents quickly thanks to the involvement of his own family within the church and his outgoing personality. Within months, he took the first steps to build trust by bringing the boy gifts, visiting him at home, and taking him to McDonald’s.

It didn’t take long for Brown to show him pornographic magazines and videos. He then told his victims that if he “wanted to be experienced with girls he should try it with boys first.” He soon began to inappropriately touch the boy.

His victim has since stated that as a child, he knew what was happening was wrong but he felt that he needed to protect Brown who he saw as a friend. Eventually, he did speak up and told Brown that what he was doing was wrong but the abuse continued for eight years. His victim didn’t report the abuse until 2013 when he was an adult. He has struggled to process and repress the horrific memories for decades.

Today, Brown’s victim speaks out about how he struggled to cope with the abuse he experienced. He ultimately turned to drugs and alcohol for more than 15 years. He also blames the end of his marriage on the emotional trauma he has experienced. His first step toward healing was to report Brown to authorities.

Robert Brown Guilty Of Sexual Assault

In 2016, Brown pleaded guilty to two charges of aggravated assault and five instances of sexual intercourse with a boy between the ages of 10 and 18. He was sentenced to prison for 18 months and was placed on supervised probation and parole for another 18 months after his release.

When speaking about the incidents, Brown stated that he didn’t believe what happened was wrong.

Did The Belair Baptist Church Fail To Protect Children In Its Youth Group?

In this particular case, little has been discussed regarding the role of the Belair Baptist Church and any steps they did or did not take to protect the children in their care. However, given the circumstances, it’s likely that appropriate protections were not put into place.

Every religious organization needs to take steps to protect children that participate in various activities. In the last several decades, thousands of individuals have come forward to report abuse that happened to them as children at a religious establishment, making it obvious that many churches fail to take the necessary steps to keep kids safe from sexual predators.

In a shocking number of cases, church officials were notified of the abuse and did nothing, or worse, took steps to protect the abuser.

What Rights Do I Have If I Was Sexually Abused As A Child?

If you or a loved one experienced sexual assault as a child, you can take action. In addition to criminal charges, it is typically possible to pursue a sexual assault lawsuit.

This lawsuit is a civil lawsuit and seeks to compensate the victim for the losses that have been sustained. Examples of losses include physical injury and emotional trauma. Child sexual assault lawsuits are filed against those who are responsible for the harm experienced by the child – in many cases, both the abuser and the religious institution.

While nothing can change the past, fighting for justice can help to create a brighter future. Financial compensation from a sexual assault lawsuit can help victims obtain the care they need.

If you or someone you know would like to talk to one of our historical sexual abuse specialists, for free and in confidence, about your legal options, please feel free to either complete the form below with the best way and the best time to contact you, or you can call us on 02 9283 5599.

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