A man who was sexually abused by his uncle in Canberra in the 1980s and 1990s has told the ACT Supreme Court of the profound impact the crime had on his life.
The court heard Willem Bowen Scheeren began to take an interest in his nephew Antony James Vote in the late 1980s, taking the boy on camping trips or to swim at local rivers.
Mr Vote, who wished to be identified, read a statement in court outlining how the abuse he then suffered had affected him.
“For a long time I blamed myself for what happened,” he said.
“For a time I was even confused about my sexuality.
“It happened at a critical time in my life.
“For a time I even thought I was gay.”
Mr Vote said it was still difficult for him to spend quality time with his sister’s children.
“I’m always feeling uncomfortable with thoughts of them thinking I could be the same as my uncle,” he said.
He said the abuse he suffered also exposed him to drugs and had divided his family.
“The impact it has had on my mother is what affects me the most,” he said.
“Numerous times have I heard my mother cry herself to sleep; it broke my heart.”
I share his pain: mother
His mother Robin Vote told the court that, while juggling work and parenting, she was initially grateful for the time Scheeren spent with her son.
“I was so happy that Antony had companionship and activities to keep him occupied and, I thought, safe,” she said.
“As a mother, this is my greatest guilt.”
She said Scheeren had since “freely admitted” that he had had inappropriate sexual contact with her son but told her it was “his way of demonstrating love”.