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Published: 28 November 2014
Author: Amy Olver with research assistance from Kate Stowell

How our clients and database helped secure a conviction against sex offender Ronald Buckley

The conviction this week of Ronald Buckley, the 93-year old who was found guilty of sexually abusing orphaned boys at the Hillside Boys’ Home, is an interesting example of how, by using our extensive database, RCT was able to assist to corroborate and expedite investigations by police that ultimately led to the conviction of a paedophile.

Detectives from SOCIT  (Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team) approached Ryan Carlisle Thomas’ institutional and sexual abuse team to help collect and corroborate evidence against Buckley.

The allegations against Buckley stemmed from abuse that he was found guilty of having committed some 50 years ago while Superintendent of the Glen Waverley-based orphanage.

In building their case against the then alleged offender, police sought our co-operation in 2011 when they asked us to approach clients who had attended Hillside Boys Home and invite them to come forward with any evidence of abuse committed against them.

The specialist police unit approached Ryan Carlisle Thomas knowing that we have the largest database of sexual and institutional abuse clients in Victoria and had acted for victims of Buckley’s in the past.

Our database contains evidence provided by the more than 1,800 clients we have consulted and records on institutions, that detail history of offenders’ employment and/or details of the abuse alleged and/or proven to have occurred there. 

In this instance, we checked our database and found that a number of our clients had made allegations against Buckley. We approached these clients informing them of the investigation being conducted against Buckley and inviting them to contact us should they wish to speak with police or authorise us to provide materials to police in order to help obtain a successful conviction.

Four clients came forward and went on to give evidence at trial that resulted in Buckley’s conviction.

The case demonstrates how the police and a private law firm can cooperate in order to serve the cause of justice. It is an example of how civil and criminal law can work in conjunction to secure a criminal conviction even in cases of historical abuse

It is our experience that many clients want justice in the form of their perpetrator’s being held accountable as well as compensation for their injuries. To this end, they wish to see their tormentors put on trial, sentenced, and punished.

RCT encourages clients to go to the police to report the criminal acts committed against them. While many do, others are understandably reluctant to do so because they do not wish to have their abuse made public. However, the conviction of Ronald Buckley serves as a reminder of the value in the collation of corroborating material and the strength of evidence provided by survivors of abuse.

The Sano Child Exploitation Taskforce was set up to investigate allegations stemming from the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into child sex abuse involving Religious and Non-Government organisations. It now coordinates investigations stemming from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The SANO Taskforce has taken over a lot of the historical abuse work performed by SOCIT.

All Sano detectives are trained experts in the investigation of sexual assault. Public toll free number: 1800 110 007 or email: sanotaskforce@police.vic.gov.au.

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