Sexual abuse victims of a jailed former Cricket ACT coach have been left penniless in their fight for compensation, with both the territory and national cricket bodies saying a technicality has left them willing but unable to pay.
Several victims who suffered at the hands of former Cricket ACT coach Ian Harold King have unsuccessfully applied for redress, which would potentially cost the Canberra-based sporting body $100,000 per victim were they to pay out compensation.
Cricket ACT committed to joining the national redress scheme for victims of institutional child sexual abuse in June of 2020, but were told by the Department of Social Services they did not meet the legislative requirements to participate.
The rules of the scheme state that "institutions must demonstrate their capacity to pay redress for current and any possible future applicants over the life of the scheme".
It is understood at least two applications for redress have been made to Cricket ACT, with a further 13 potentially also made to the territory's governing body.
One survivor of abuse by King said his parents were "tricked" by the coach into allowing him to occasionally stay at the convicted paedophile's house the night before a game.
King met Peter* and his parents during the 1990s, and spent 18 months building trust with the family before inviting the young cricketer into his home.
Peter said he stayed at his coach's home a "couple of times" the nights before games, and "that's when stuff happened".
"At the time I was uncomfortable obviously, but he made me feel like it was the right thing. Looking back now it was just wrong and disgusting, to be honest with you," he said.
"This is pretty hard to talk about."
It took a lot of strength for him to tell me, because that's a big thing that [victims] carry on their shoulders all day, every day of their life.*Peter's wife *Michelle
Peter said the effect of King's abuse has followed him throughout his life.
"I'm a father now. I'm very very protective of my kids. It's always there in the back of my mind," he said.
Were Cricket ACT permitted to sign up to the scheme, it would not only be required to pay out the claims already on the table, but any future applications for redress. That could cost several million dollars, which would financially ruin the institution.
"Cricket ACT recognises the devastating and lasting impact that child sex abuse can have on the lives of survivors and their loved ones," a Cricket ACT statement said.
"We appreciate the importance of the National Redress Scheme and support its purpose and objectives to ensure that full and appropriate redress is available to all people who have experienced institutional child sexual abuse.
"Cricket ACT was assessed by the Department [of Social Services] as being unable to join the scheme based on the current requirements of the legislation, particularly the department's assessment of Cricket ACT's incapacity to pay redress for current and any possible future applicants over the life of the scheme."
The National Redress Scheme was set up in response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, and was designed as an avenue for victims to be paid compensation without the need for legal action.
Victims can only be paid out if the institution they are claiming against has signed up to the scheme. Should that be the case, successful applications will be paid out by the scheme, which effectively loans compensation payments to the institution which then repays that money at a later date.
While the national redress scheme includes "funder of last resort" provisions, in which state, territory and federal governments could cover the redress owed to victims, the provision is only triggered when an institution is defunct and the government can be determined "equally responsible" for the abuse along with the institution.
"Cricket ACT will remain in close contact with the department and Cricket Australia to consider how Cricket ACT might be able to participate in the scheme in the future if circumstances change," Cricket ACT's statement said.
Peter said he still hadn't been able to talk to his parents about the abuse he suffered under King.
"When he was convicted, obviously a lot of bad memories came back to me. I wanted to say something, but I didn't want to put the burden on my parents," he said.
"They would've felt like shit knowing what happened to me. They've done a great job raising us kids. I wouldn't want them to punish themselves.
"I might find some courage one day to tell them and just reassure them I'm okay. Maybe I won't tell them, maybe it's just something I'll keep to myself."
Cricket Australia is in the process of signing up to the scheme, but will not be able to provide compensation to Cricket ACT victims who have applied for redress.
In a structure resembling a reverse umbrella, Cricket Australia is owned by its six state associations. Cricket ACT does not have a seat at the nationwide table, and is actually an extension of Cricket NSW.
That means Cricket ACT is not actually overseen by the country's governing body.
"Cricket Australia (CA) recognises the devastating and lasting impact that child sexual abuse can have on the lives of survivors and their loved ones," a Cricket Australia statement said.
"CA will continue to work closely with Cricket ACT and the National Redress Scheme to explore ways in which Cricket ACT can viably and meaningfully participate in the scheme."
King, a former Queensland fast bowler, came to Canberra in the 1980s and started coaching cricket.
He abused several boys who were in his care while coaching in the capital, and earned a reputation among players for being a sexual deviant while he was still under the employ of Cricket ACT.
In 2012 he received a 12-year jail sentence after pleading guilty to 25 child sex charges in the ACT Supreme Court.
King was 69 when he was jailed, and was the subject of a vicious assault early in his sentence by a fellow inmate, during which the former coach lost an eye.
Peter's wife Michelle* said learning of her husband's abuse in more recent times had helped save their marriage.
"I can understand some of his previous behaviours; we nearly got divorced twice. The second time I actually left, packed up the kids and left," she said.
"Anger issues, not opening up, no confidence, self-isolating. In the family unit, that's extremely hard, and it's extremely easy to walk away from if you don't understand the situation.
"It took a lot of strength for him to tell me, because that's a big thing that [victims] carry on their shoulders all day, every day of their life.
"He had issues with developing relationships with our sons, and he still does - I find him holding back with them. He still holds back from me, but because I'm such a pushy bitch, I push him to the point that he will open up and say 'Well that triggers me', and all this sort of stuff.
"It's part of the healing process to move forward and to try and discuss, get some closure, talk about the things that do trigger those memories. It's a life punishment really."
*Peter and Michelle's names have been changed to protect their anonymity.
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