The Qld DPP office refused to “go after” swimming coach Scott Volkers despite offering consolation to his alleged victim that her accusation was believed.
Queensland’s ex-deputy Director of Public Prosecutions told an alleged child abuse survivor that public money couldn’t be spent going after Olympic swimming coach Scott Volkers because of his high profile, a royal commission hearing has heard.
Julie Gilbert, a former student of Mr Volkers, was told by then deputy DPP Paul Rutledge to take consolation in the fact his wife believed Ms Gilbert’s accusations even as the case was dropped.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse also heard on Monday that Mr Volkers, the former coach of swim star Susie O’Neill, was still allowed to supervise children despite being rejected for a working with children card.
Four women have accused Mr Volkers of sexually abusing them while he was a swimming instructor in the 1980s and 1990s.
Charges were laid in 2002, but subsequently dropped. Ms Gilbert told the inquiry she attended a meeting with Mr Rutledge in September 2002.
“He made some curious statements, including saying to me words to the effect, the ODPP (Office of Director of Public Prosecutions) could not use public money to go after a high-profile person like Mr Volkers when three of us were saying something had happened, but `a thousand other girls’ trained by him said nothing happened,” Ms Gilbert said.
“He then added something like, `If it’s any consolation to you, my wife believes you.'”
Another of Mr Volkers’ alleged victims, Kylie Rogers, told the commission police had to be called after she had a psychotic episode when told the charges were being dropped in 2002.
Stopping briefly to fight back tears she said: “I remember saying to the police, `can you shoot me, just shoot me’.”
The commission heard that after the charges were dropped, Mr Volkers made two applications for a so-called blue card – essentially a working with children approval – and received a negative assessment both times.
He unsuccessfully appealed against the decision in April 2010 to Queensland’s Civil and Administrative Tribunal, which ruled in May found Mr Volkers posed an unacceptable risk to children.
The tribunal highlighted as one of the relevant factors in its decision a recorded statement of Mr Volkers talking to a complainant, in which he admitted he touched a girl’s leg “on both sides”.
“I remember – I do remember it as very – it was high, right up in the groin area and it may have been – or something,” the statement said.
Two months later Queensland’s Commission for Children and Young People received complaints Mr Volkers was coaching girls aged 14 – 17 for Swimming Queensland on a trip to China and at Sleeman Aquatic Centre.
On September 27 that year, Queensland’s Commission for Children and Young People said Mr Volkers would have to step back to comply with the law.
Mr Volkers subsequently ceased employment with Swimming Queensland and started working in Brazil.