Pam Kate’s story of Child Sexual Abuse within Jehovah’s Witnesses in Australia
| In the early 1980s when Pam was about four years old, her family joined a Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation in Victoria.
Walter Green, one of the elders of the church, befriended the family. He sometimes offered to take Pam for walks and it was during these walks that he sexually abused her.
Pam told her mother about the abuse in the car one day. ‘I think it was in childish terms. I think she pressed me for a bit more information so I was able to sort of help her … He was touching me, or what [I was] doing to him, or that type of thing … I think, me, myself, it was more like, “He’s bad. He was naughty. He’s rude”. That type of thing.’
Pam’s mother went to the elders to report the abuse. Pam doesn’t know what was said during the meeting, but Green was removed from the church and she never saw him again. No one contacted the police.
Pam remembers seeing Green’s son not long after the meeting. ‘[Maybe] a week later, this man, in the middle of the church … he walked in and he’s sort of looking at me, like really angry … he was angry because of his dad or whatever, but I didn’t really understand what was going on.’
A lot was happening in Pam’s life, as well as the sexual abuse. ‘I really did have a yuk childhood, like not just Jehovah’s Witnesses, but other things as well. Like, we were removed from our parents when I was sort of around 11 or 12.’
After she was taken away from her family, Pam spent a couple of years in a group home, with cottage parents. ‘That was nice … It was actually good.’
Once Pam reached 30, ‘I wanted to think about my childhood, because, I don’t know, getting to like a milestone maybe, getting older and started to think, well maybe I should look back and remember something … I don’t know’.
In the early 2010s, Pam decided to report Green to Victoria police. Their response was very good, but they told her that he was not in a fit state of health to be prosecuted. Pam told the Commissioner, ‘it was upsetting, but fine’. It did help when the officer told her that Green had served time for other sexual offences against children.
Even though Green couldn’t be prosecuted for the offences against Pam, she still ‘felt like I did something positive … Even though I was a bit low for a while … I picked back up again. Now, I’m here [at the Royal Commission], so I’m sort of … [don’t] want to go low again … I’ll be all right. I’ll be fine’.