In Short: A former volunteer at the Footscray Football Club is suing for damages after suffering sexual abuse as a child at the hands of another volunteer.
His lawyers said the abuse led him to develop substance addictions, and he continues to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety.
What’s Next? The trial continues.
Other victims of abuse, Mr Kneale’s family members, medical experts, and former journalist Derryn Hinch — who routinely reported on child sex abuse cases at the time — are among those who will give evidence for the prosecution.
The Western Bulldogs have been accused of turning a blind eye to a sexual predator, who preyed on young boys at the football club four decades ago.
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Adam Kneale, now 51, is suing the club for damages after enduring abuse at the hands of Graeme Hobbs, a former club volunteer who lured young victims with the promise of money, tickets and memorabilia.
Mr Kneale’s lawyers said the club, then known as Footscray, acted negligently by failing to take action to stop Hobbs and is liable for the lifelong damage Mr Kneale suffered.
Barrister Tim Hammond said Hobbs, whose nickname was Chops, was a “sick and disturbed sexual predator” who raped Mr Kneale countless times over seven years.
Mr Hammond said the abuse led Mr Kneale to develop substance addictions, and that he continued to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety that had affected his ability to work.
Mr Hammond told the Supreme Court Hobbs was an “integral part” of the footy club, whose volunteering and fundraising work was publicly recognised by club leaders.
Adam Kneale endured abuse as a child while volunteering at the Footscray Football Club.(ABC News: Russell Jackson)
“Hobbs was able to take advantage of his special role at the club to take advantage of boys like Adam Kneale and then abuse them,” Mr Hammond said.
“Hobbs made money in his role for the Footscray Football Club but it was Adam Kneale who has paid the price for that.
“This was a football club being run by men who should have known.”
Mr Hammond said Hobbs first abused Mr Kneale when he was 11-years-old in 1984, and committed further offences at the Western Oval club offices, change rooms, toilets, the boardroom and on a trip to Sydney.
Mr Hammond said, Hobbs also exposed Mr Kneale to other paedophiles, who committed further rapes against him when he was a teenager.
Mr Kneale reported Hobbs to police in 1993.
The case made the front page of the local paper, The Western Times, when the rapist was jailed by the County Court.
Hobbs is now dead.
The Western Times newspaper covered the case of Graeme Barry Hobbs in 1994. (Supplied: Adam Kneale)
Club maintains its conduct was ‘proper and appropriate’
Jack Rush KC, acting for the Footscray Football Club, said the club did not deny sexual abuse took place, but denied its former leaders were aware of Hobbs’ actions, even after it was reported in the newspaper.
“It’s not a straight-forward case,” he told the court.
“We are dealing with something that is 40 years old. We are dealing with different times.
“[Hobbs] is responsible for the abuse. He was taken to court and charged by the police, he was sentenced to imprisonment.
“The conduct of the club at all times was proper and appropriate.”
Lawyers for Footscray intend to call former Bulldogs president Peter Gordon and ex-CEO Dennis Galimberti to give evidence in the civil jury trial, before Justice Melanie Richards.
Mr Hammond said his client was seeking financial compensation for the pain suffered, lost earnings and aggravated damages to “send a message to the footy club”.
Mr Kneale will be the first prosecution witness.
Other victims of Hobbs, Mr Kneale’s family members, medical experts and former journalist Derryn Hinch — who routinely reported on child sex abuse cases at the time — are among those who will give evidence for the prosecution.
The trial continues.
Source: AFL NEWS ABC