CHILD rapist Roy ‘Dootch’ Kennedy has bemoaned his tough life in a confounding courtroom display that proved too much for the woman he thrice impregnated when she was still a girl.
The well-known Sandon Point Aboriginal tent embassy founder was supported by about 15 people as he was led from a Wollongong courtroom on Friday to begin a jail term of a yet-to-be-decided length.
His victim attended with her partner and two social workers. A slight woman, she stood alone to read a statement detailing the effects of Kennedy’s offending.
“The scars that have been left behind, that can always be seen, is a constant reminder of the abuse,” she said, in a choked, barely audible voice.
“Falling pregnant very young was very difficult when it became time to give birth, my body was not fully developed in the way it should have been and the birth itself was very traumatic physically and emotionally.”
Kennedy subjected the woman to five years of physical and sexual abuse in the mid-1990s, when he was aged in his late 30s and she was a teen.
She gave birth to two babies as a result – one when when she was a day shy of her 16th birthday; the other almost a year later. A third pregnancy – twins – ended with a miscarriage at 12 weeks.
Her children were “confused and upset” when they learnt the identity of their father, the woman told the court.
One suffered an ongoing health complication, possibly linked to his mother’s low age and weight at his birth.
The other was “angry at the world” and prone to self-harm, she said.
“Once upon a time [we] were close. As soon as he found out who his real father was this has changed,” she said.
“I really miss having [the children] near me, I really miss and grieve for the relationship we once had.
“I often think about [the children] and hope that one day they will come to realise that I was innocent in all of this ...
“My miscarriage with twins was also very hard. Even though it was a forced pregnancy they were still my children.”
The woman said she was shunned by large sections of the Aboriginal community in which Kennedy was considered a respected elder.
She said she had declined Aboriginal services “because of the shame”.
“I ... have had to break away from my mob … I was always fearful that coming forward and telling the truth would create backlash from my community. Especially because in our community Dootch was seen in a positive light, and as an elder he has a lot of power and responsibility.”
She described frequent suicidal thoughts, self-harm and difficulty maintaining relationships. She suffered flashbacks and an eating disorder, often going for long periods of time without food. Premature motherhood had prevented her from finishing school and this and her mental health troubles had limited her ability to work.
“I feel like I have missed out on so many opportunities that life should bring,” she said.
Kennedy, 58, was arrested in January 2014. He stood down from his role as land council chairman but continued to protest his innocence until December 7, when he pleaded guilty to four counts of aggravated sexual assault. One of the charges relates to his final sexual encounter with the girl, in 1999, when he pulled her by her hair into the back seat of a car and violently sexually assaulted her as she cried and told him to stop.
Addressing Wollongong District Court on Friday, Kennedy said he took responsibility for the woman’s “horrific” teenage years and felt ill and “deeply shamed” for his actions.
The woman abruptly departed the courtroom soon after Kennedy appeared to empathise with her experience of being shunned.
“I understand what it’s like to be shunned in Aboriginal community ... I feel exactly the same,” he said.
He told the court his recent meeting with a court-appointed psychologist had caused him to reflect on the negative events of his life, including his marriage breakdown in the early 1990s, the suicide of a good friend in 1989 and an assault he suffered at Nowra in 1985. He said these events – particularly the assault –had caused him to turn to alcohol.
“I can’t justify my behaviour because of alcohol abuse, but I can justify my alcohol abuse because of the pain that I have been going through,” he said.
“If there was only one way that I could kill those memories in my head ... especially from the fight … Why wasn’t I given further counselling of some support after being in hospital?”
Judge Paul Conlon spoke at this point.
“I see no correlation between that and what he did to a 15-year-old girl in the 1990s,” he said.
The judge will hand down his sentence on March 14.
Kennedy took up residence in a waterfront tent at Sandon Point in 2000 soon after it became the site of a significant human remains discovery.
He arrived at court on Friday a free man but was taken into custody at the end of proceedings, as a full-time jail sentence is now inevitable.