Opinion: Never too late to speak out, to share ‘secrets’

For close to 30 years, a Bunbury man described by a District Court judge this week as having an “abnormal sexual interest in young children” kept quiet about his predilection for paedophilia. 

Now Clive William Black’s secret is out.

And it’s as awful as you would imagine.

For 10 years this formerly respected member of the community groomed little girls for his own sexual gratification.

In abusing these girls he stole their innocence; their childhood.

Nothing can bring that back for his victims.

Not seven years in jail, not expressions of remorse, not regret.

A shroud of secrecy governed his offending for a decade.

“This is our little secret,” he told one victim. “You shouldn’t tell anyone,” he told another.

Black was a trusted figure to these young girls.

His victims, just verging on puberty when indecently dealt with by Black, did as their abuser asked; they kept quiet.

But some secrets can’t be kept forever.

Some secrets need to come to light.

One can only imagine how hard it was for Black’s victims – now grown women – to come forward with the truth about their experiences with the now-73-year-old.

They should be applauded for taking the stand they did against a man who, had they kept quiet, would have gone to his grave with his sick secrets.

Whether the sentence imposed on Black in Bunbury District Court this week was of any comfort to these women can only be known by them.

They were warned by presiding Chief District Court Judge Kevin Sleight that it was “inevitable” they would feel disappointed in the sentence.

The truth is, there is nothing the judge could have done to return to these women what was stolen by Black so many years ago.

My hope would be that by coming forward and seeing Black plead guilty to the charges put before him, these women felt some sense of vindication, however small.

What they may not realise is the effect their speaking out may have had on others who have gone through similar abuse.

More victims may now speak out and seek help thanks to the courage of these women.

The community owes them a debt of gratitude.