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Could what happened to Keli Lane at 15 explain some of her decisions?

When Keli Lane told her parents she was being investigated by police in relation to her missing daughter, Tegan Lee Lane, it was the first time they knew of a granddaughter.

Not only were they unaware Tegan existed, they had no knowledge their daughter had ever been pregnant.

Keli had, of course, been pregnant. Not just once. But four times.

At 17 years old, Keli underwent her first termination. At 19 years old, she discovered again that she was pregnant, and decided to have her second abortion.

The third time Keli fell pregnant, while living in her parents’ house and playing competitive water polo several times a week, she carried the baby to full term and gave the boy up for adoption. Despite the fact some coaches and teammates noticed Keli’s changing body – no one once acknowledged it. She played water polo at nine months pregnant, and after disappearing for a few days, reappeared, without a rounded stomach or a newborn.

Life progressed as usual.

And then she found herself pregnant with Tegan.

Again, she played water polo, a contact sport, with a baby growing inside her. Some people claim they never noticed. The ones who did never said a word about it.

For the second time, 21-year-old Keli gave birth, this time at Auburn hospital in New South Wales.

Throughout both pregnancies, Keli never saw an obstetrician. She lived her life as though she was not pregnant – which is, regardless of the crime she has been convicted of, abnormal behaviour.

Keli was a well-educated woman who grew up in Northern Sydney. As a doctor interviewed on the ABC documentary series Exposed: The Case of Keli Lane put it, one thing is startlingly clear: Keli  – who had five unwanted pregnancies in seven years – was in “denial”.

And, perhaps her past, addressed in Tuesday night’s final instalment of Exposed can go someway in explaining why.

Forensic psychiatrist Dr Anne Buist conducted a face to face assessment of Keli, who is currently serving her 18 year prison sentence in Silverwater Women’s Correctional Centre. She determined that Keli is not a narcissist, is not delusional, is not evil, is not a pathological liar, and at least in a “diagnostic sense”, is not mentally ill.

“From a very early age,” Dr Buist told investigative journalist Caro Meldrum-Hanna, “she got the message that her family didn’t like dealing with negative emotions. They got pushed down, they got squashed.”

And then there were the details of Keli’s first sexual experience.

“Her first sexual experience at 15, which was a date rape… she blamed herself,” Dr Buist said.

Speaking to Meldrum-Hanna, Keli said,  “I was quite young, I was intoxicated. I think the lack of ownership… I don’t think I valued my body and my choices and my boundaries, because everybody just seemed to be so frivolous with it.

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“And I think for whatever reason me feeling out of control, that all contributed to my choices… falling pregnant and not knowing how to manage it.”

Forty eight hours after giving birth to Tegan, Keli was at a friend’s wedding alongside her boyfriend Duncan Gillies, who had no idea his girlfriend had given birth. No one did.

Something happened between September 12, when Tegan was born, and September 14, when Keli arrived – without a baby – to her friend’s wedding.

Keli says she gave baby Tegan to her father, a man named Andrew Norris. This man, if he exists, has never been located. A court has determined that Keli, now 43, murdered her baby – though Tegan’s body has never been recovered.

The prevailing theory since her arrest in 2009, was that Keli believed a baby would interfere with her sporting ambitions, particularly her chances of representing Australia at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000.

This narrative had gone virtually unquestioned, until Tuesday night’s episode of Exposed found there to be no evidence that Keli had hopes of competing in the Olympics. Her coaches, friends and teammates said she was not performing at that level, nor was she training with such a goal in mind.

The question at this point is not whether or not we believe Keli Lane murdered her two-day-old baby in 1996.

It’s whether we think she was subjected to a fair trial.

And if, after the investigation led by Caro Meldrum-Hanna, without a body, and without any forensic evidence, we can find room for reasonable doubt.

You can watch all three episodes of EXPOSED: The Case of Keli Lane on iview.

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