Shocking tales of abuse shared as public hearings open

OVERCOME with emotion, an unnamed woman is telling a room filled with people about the moment she learned her eight-year-old son had been sexually abused by a trusted babysitter and family friend.

"He's done it every Saturday since the first time I met him," the schoolboy told his mother in late 2011.

The boy searched for comfort under a small rug he called "ruggy".

"I don't want to talk about this - let's not talk about this."

The woman gave her account on the opening day of public hearings held by the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse.

Her boy - referred to as "AO" - was abused by Jonathan Luke Lord while between stints with YMCA Sydney as a childcare worker.

Lord was later jailed at least six years for 13 sexual offences involving 12 children.

Of these, 11 of these were with children under 16 and two involved a children under 10.

The hearings focus on how complaints about Mr Lord were handled by the YMCA and police.

AO's mother told how Mr Lorde's own mother encouraged her to hire the man as a babysitter, citing his previous experience with the YMCA.

Lord became a treasured family friend who would often buy gifts for AO, even attending the birthday parties of him and his friends.

The truth was revealed after Mr Lord asked AO's mother for a character reference following an accusation of indecent assault from another child.

Before obliging, she asked AO if he had ever been touched by Mr Lord.

When he explained the routine abuse, which lasted almost 12 months, the mother said her "whole world fell apart".

Hers is a single story forming a tapestry of institutional abuse in Australia - Justice Peter McClellan AM outlined the scale of the issue on Monday morning.

He said the Commission had heard from 588 people in private sessions, with another 513 yet to tell their own stories.

Another 1200 have contacted the Commission. At least 600 will likely require private sessions.

About 40 phone calls are taken per day by the Commission of which 12 may need a private session.

There have also been 542 written statements.

This round of hearings in Sydney are expected to run for two weeks.A CHILD'S PLEA

When convicted child abuser Jonathan Lord faced trial, the now 10-year-old AO wrote a letter.

Dear Judge

I would really like you to read this.

I feel that john has done something really bad to me.

I feel angry when I hear his name.

I don't want John to do this to anyone else.

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