'That one night destroyed my life' - sex abuse victim

Leeann Rodgers kept an ugly secret for 36 years, but now she's helped put the paedophile who abused her behind bars.

Leslie James Young, 63, has been jailed for three years after admitting seven charges of sexually abusing girls aged under 12.

Three of those charges related to Mrs Rodgers - then 11-year-old Leeann Collins - who he attacked in her Spreydon home in 1977.

Young's historic offending against Mrs Rodgers came to light while police were investigating complaints of sexual abuse against another girl.

He also pleaded guilty to four charges involving that child.

Young's bid for name suppression failed at his sentencing, but Mrs Rodgers has waived her right to automatic suppression to persuade other victims of sexual abuse to step forward.

She told her mother what happened the morning after she was molested by Young while he was baby-sitting her.

"I said to mum 'should you keep a secret if it's a bad secret?' She said 'no'. She pretty much stopped it right there because she knew straight away.

"I believe Dad went over and spoke to him and he just denied everything.''

The police were not informed.

"Les told me that what he doing to me was what happened to girls who were naughty and bad,'' Mrs Young told The Star. "He told me it was our secret. If I didn't keep the secret, he would come back and do it again, or he might even kill me.''

Mrs Rodgers said she lived in fear of her attacker after she told her mother what Young had done.

"I just thought he was going to come back and get me some time. That one night destroyed my life totally.''

Mrs Rodgers said she never told anyone else about Young's abuse and kept her dark secret until police contacted her last June during their investigation into his latest offending.

"Nobody really knew the extent of what he'd done except Les and me. Nobody ever asked me about it.''

Mrs Rodgers said she wanted to encourage anyone with a similar "secret'' to contact police.

"They need to know that it's not like it was years ago. There's so much support there now.''

She said the support she received was "amazing''. The police, Victim Support and courts had been "absolutely brilliant''.

In her victim impact statement read to the court at Young's sentencing, Mrs Rodgers said the sexual abuse had affected her greatly.

She said Young continued on with his life without giving a thought to the damage he'd done.

She'd been married three times because she'd never been able to "hold a relationship together properly'' and had attempted suicide many times.

"It was assumed that I was odd or seeking attention, but I knew I was trying to get away from Les and the nightmares and pain he caused.''

- By Cullen Smith of The Star 

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