For years, Roy Kennedy presented himself as the outspoken, trustworthy voice of the Illawarra’s Aboriginal community.
‘Dootch’ to those who knew him – and those who didn’t – rose to prominence as a founder of the famous Sandon Point Aboriginal Tent Embassy in 2000.
He fought a decade-long fight against development on his beloved McCauleys Beach and wielded power as chairman of the influential Illawarra Local Aboriginal Land Council.
But underneath that principled and righteous persona, Roy Kennedy was hiding a monstrous secret from his past.
In the mid 1990s, aged in his late 30s, he’d become obsessed with a teenage girl and for five years subjected her to physical and sexual abuse.
His depraved actions resulted in the birth of two children – one when the teen was a day shy of her 16th birthday, and the second almost a year later.
A third pregnancy in quick succession ended abruptly with a miscarriage at 12 weeks.
On each occasion, the teen was forced to lie about the identity of the father; Kennedy told her during the first pregnancy to make up a story that she’d gone to a beach party, gotten drunk and had unprotected sex with a stranger.
A family friend was blamed for the second pregnancy, and a similar story was spun for the third.
When the teen, now aged in her 30s, eventually reported the abuse to authorities in 2013, she said she continued sleeping with Kennedy after the birth of her first child because she thought he would take her baby away if she resisted.
The pair’s last sexual encounter, sometime in the second half of 1999, was frantic and violent.
Kennedy spun a false story about their son’s immediate health to lure the girl into his car, only to start abusing her about a new relationship she was in.
In a jealous rage, the now 58-year-old threatened to drive them both off a cliff at Kembla Grange before violently raping her on the back seat of the vehicle.
Kennedy was arrested in January 2014. He stood down from his role as the land council chairman but continued to protest his innocence – until Monday.
A shadow of his former, imposing self, it was a somewhat gaunt, haggered-looking man who stood in the dock at Campbelltown District Court and quietly informed the judge he was guilty of four charges of aggravated sexual assault.
He will be sentenced in February.