Paedophile Donald Henderson ‘never had sex with wife, estranged from family’

Child sex abuse inquiry: Paedophile Donald Henderson ‘never had sex with wife, estranged from family’

Updated earlier today at 6:48amMon 17 Nov 2014, 6:48am
Notorious paedophile Donald Bruce Henderson, who has been accused of abusing several Aboriginal children in Darwin, is now estranged from members of his family, depressed, and has never had sex with his wife, an inquiry has been told.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse earlier heard evidence Mr Henderson, 78, had abused children dozens of times during his time as a “house parent” at the Retta Dixon home in Darwin during the 1960s and 1970s.
Retta Dixon was a home for Aboriginal children, many of whom were identified as being part of the Stolen Generations, run by a group now known as the Australian Indigenous Ministries (AIM) in Darwin.
Although police twice brought numerous charges against Mr Henderson, now aged 78, he never faced trial.
He was later convicted of molesting two children in Darwin in a public swimming pool and handed a $500 good behaviour bond.

Adopted child, sister estranged from Donald Henderson

On Monday, a statement from Reverend Trevor Leggott, the current head of AIM, detailed conversations he had last month with Mr Henderson’s sister, Margaret French, and brother, Graeme Henderson.
Reverend Leggott revealed that Margaret used to have long conversations with her brother about day-to-day issues, but that the two no longer communicated.

I put to him directly whether he had ever sexually abused, molested or inappropriately touched children whilst he was at Retta Dixon.
He answered rather strangely by saying something to the effect of, ‘Not that I’m aware of’
Reverend Trevor Leggott, head of AIM

“Having heard the evidence received in the inquiry, they believed that Donald had indeed sexually abused children at Retta Dixon Home,” Reverend Leggott said.
Donald Henderson and his wife, Barbara, had fostered or adopted two children, both of whom were now adults, the submission to the inquiry said.
The boy who was adopted no longer had any contact with his adoptive parents, while the girl had a number of health problems and continued to live with them, the submission said.
The siblings of Donald Henderson also revealed details of their brother’s sex life in the submission.
“Donald and Barbara had not had any sexual relationship in their marriage at all,” it said.
Mr Henderson and his wife remain married.

Donald Henderson said he had ‘dark side’

In his submission to the royal commission, which on Monday began hearing oral submissions relating to the Retta Dixon home, Reverend Leggott also detailed a conversation he had with Mr Henderson on October 24.
During that two-hour meeting, Mr Henderson said his father suffered severe depression and had a “dark side”.
Mr Henderson had as a young man witnessed his father trying to commit suicide, Reverend Leggott said in the submission.
He said he had also learned from Graeme Henderson and Ms French that Donald Henderson had suffered depression and had admitted himself to psychiatric care, including during the time of the royal commission.

Mr Henderson similarly admitted to having a “dark side”, the submission said.
Reverend Leggott said he directly put to Mr Henderson several allegations of abuse levelled against him at the royal commission.
“I put to him directly whether he had ever sexually abused, molested or inappropriately touched children whilst he was at Retta Dixon,” Reverend Leggot explained in the submission.
“He answered rather strangely by saying something to the effect of, ‘Not that I’m aware of’.”
According to the submission, Mr Henderson had said there was a lot of normal “sitting on laps, holding and cuddling” of children while at Retta Dixon.
During the inquiry, Kevin Stagg, who had been housed at Retta Dixon, described being taken to Darwin hospital bleeding from the anus after being abused by Mr Henderson.
Mr Henderson also told Reverend Leggott that one girl who had levelled abuse allegations against him had told lies and hated him, and later borrowed a lot of money from him that was never repaid.
In the submission Reverend Leggott also said it was AIM’s intention to publish a national apology to victims at Retta Dixon.
He also addressed the possibility of AIM providing some compensation to alleged victims at Retta Dixon, but that while AIM had about $4.1 million in properties, only two of them are not subject to any conditions.

Reverend defends decision not to sell ministry assets to pay compensation

Outside Darwin’s Supreme Court, where some submissions on Monday were heard, Reverend Leggott defended a decision by AIM not to sell their assets to provide money for compensating victims of Retta Dixon.
Reverend Leggott said it was tough to balance the needs of the children abused at Retta Dixon with the work AIM currently undertakes to help Indigenous people.
“As horrific as the circumstances at Retta Dixon home were, there are equally horrific circumstances still existing in communities throughout this Territory,” Reverend Leggott said.
He said there was a current generation of young people AIM worked with who were in horrific circumstances as well.
“Do I neglect those at the expense of those older ones? That is not an easy decision to make,” he said.
He said AIM had offered counselling services and ongoing involvement with children abused at Retta Dixon.

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