Predators are not always strangers: a family’s journey

Trigger warningThis story deals with child sex abuse.

Note: The author of this piece needs to remain anonymous. For legal reasons, the child must remain anonymous. They have shared their story with us to empower other families. If you do know this family, please respect their privacy and withhold any reference to names or specific location.

Have you ever dropped your child off at daycare? Handed their lunch and drink bottle to the Carer you have known and trusted for a long time? Given your little one a cuddle and a kiss before heading to the car and driving to work?

Felt that daily sigh of relief that your child was being loved and cared for by another family or carer?

Did you give your 2, 3, 4 or 5 year olds personal safety a second thought during the day? Feel that they would be exposed to anything other than structured play, fun activities and constant supervision? Probably not.

Did you return after work to pick them up – let’s say around 5pm – and thank the Carer for looking after your child? If in Family Daycare, did you smile kindly at their husband, son or friend who had become a trusted presence and simply happened to be home at pick up time, hanging out with the kids, or watching television in the lounge room?

Have you ever waved goodbye to that family, hopped in the car, clicked the seatbelt on your child’s seat and driven that short drive home to make a quick family dinner before a story and bedtime?

This is normal, everyday life for a working parent with a child in daycare.

And sadly, heart-breakingly, you’re about to read the true story of one family. And they need you to know what happened.

Victim2

A SYDNEY FAMILY’S STORY…
{At the request of the family, the Author must remain anonymous}

We arrived home on Wednesday 18 December 2013, my child’s last day of care before starting our Christmas wind down. My child checked and checked whether it was their last day of care. Looking for constant reassurance that they were never going back there. Ever.

And then my child started talking.

“He touched me”. “We were watching TV and I started to fall asleep. It woke me up”. “When he did it, it hurt and there were tears streaming down my face”. “I tried to kick him away”. “I said don’t do it and he kept saying Come on, Come on”, “He better not do this to the other babies”. “I was left alone in the room with him”. “I was so scared”. “He tried to do it again”. “One, two, three, four, five times”. “Mummy, Daddy, why did he do this to me?”.

We were stunned.

“Thank you for telling us Darling”. “You did the right thing”. “Are you OK”? “I’m so proud of you for being so brave”. “Mummy and Daddy love you so much”.

Tears streamed down my face.

Until my child revealed this information, we did not suspect a thing.

Not. A. Thing.

These are the words you should never, ever have to hear from your child. It’s what nightmares are made of. Surely this can’t be reality? Not in our neighbourhood, not within our daycare system?

Not to my child. MY child.

But it did happen.

It happened to my beautiful, funny, innocent, sweet, happy child. It happened to my family. A family just like yours who thought that as parents we were doing OK.

There were no strangers involved. It wasn’t random attack. Our child wasn’t lured into a van or taken from a park. I didn’t lose sight of them or feel like I was putting them in a harmful situation.

This assault was at a trusted person’s home and carried out by someone close to our family and child. He was a known and respected adult friend whose wife was paid to look after my little one.

What if my child didn’t speak up and the daycare service was still in operation?

Think about it.

Your child may have been placed there next and you would have been none the wiser. Your son or daughter could have been next.

Many little children have not yet found their voice. They don’t know that it’s wrong.

The day our child spoke up became the proudest and most heartbreaking day of our lives.

Shock, numbness, disbelief, and fear. We were devastated, heart-broken, angry, helpless, and felt like we had failed as parents. That it was our fault for not seeing the signs. That we had failed to protect our child.

But our child was so courageous, so strong, and so brave to speak up.

So we pushed through our emotional turmoil and made the necessary calls the following morning. We were determined to have this man charged, help our child feel safe again, and begin the long and painful journey that would eventually lead to our road to recovery.

The accused child sex offender, 59 year old Fijian born Talemo Tikomaimaleya was arrested by a Child Abuse Squad Detective on Christmas Eve 2013 and later released on bail.

Soon after, despite being advised by his own legal team to plead guilty given the amount of evidence against him, the accused chose to take this case to trial.

This meant our child would need to be present at the trial via CCTV, cross-examined by a legal team, and need to watch their Police disclosure video reminding them of every single detail they had been counseled for and begun to recover from over a year later.

This would be a difficult decision for any parent to put their child through but our child was determined to “do their job”, “protect other children”, and hoped to never have to see him again. And we wanted our child to know that we did everything we could to fight for them.

And with the support of the Bankstown Child Abuse Squad, a Senior Social Worker and the DPP (Department of Public Prosecutions), giving up was never an option for us.

My child’s only request was that I didn’t look at him in the Court Room. So that my eyes didn’t have to see or feel the pain that Talemo Tikomaimaleya had already inflicted onto my child.

The five-day trial date was set for Monday 23 February 2015.

After fourteen long months filled with visits to Solicitors, recording of conversations, and counseling sessions in preparation for a gruelling, emotional five days in Court, on 27 February 2015 the accused child sex offender was convicted by a Jury of 11 people for the most serious crime of Sexual Intercourse with a person under the age of 10 years (which as of Wednesday 24 June incurred a maximum sentence of life in prison, previously 25 years).

The now convicted Pedophile, Talemo Tikomaimaleya, was immediately granted bail until the proposed Sentencing on 10 April 2015 to ‘take care of his affairs’ by a Sydney Judge.

Yes, you read that right, we sat there and watched as this convicted child sex offender was read their ‘bail conditions’ and allowed to freely walk the streets of Sydney.

In the days following the conviction, the DPP lodged an application to have his bail revoked and finally on Thursday 26 March 2015 he was handcuffed and taken to Silverwater Jail.

Seeing him in handcuffs being led away by Police was a vision we will never forget and are grateful to have had. It confirmed that our heartbreaking journey had been worth it, and that his punishment had finally began.

And as we were shouted at by one of his family members when leaving the court that day, it made me feel that ‘at last’ they have shown that this experience has and will affect him. We had seen no reaction, affect or remorse from him or his family which was so hard when it’s had such a huge impact on ours.

The Sentencing was on Thursday 18 June 2015.

You can read my child’s Victim Impact Statement here.

And before handing down Talemo Tikomaimaleya’s sentence, the Judge acknowledged “The emotional and psychological consequences for a five-year-old cannot be underestimated”.

He was then sentenced to 9 years in prison, 6 years non-parole.

What happened to my sweet, loving, beautiful child cannot be undone and the road to recovery will be a long one. But thanks to an incredibly dedicated team of law enforcers and the bravery of my child, Talemo Tikomaimaleya is now in prison and will not be a threat to any other children.

Now we live in hope that for the sake of our child whose innocence was torn from them in the most devastating of ways, we can help prevent this from happening to another beautiful child and another family.

Please share this story. Please empower every parent you know. We fought hard as a family and now this journey is over and our road to recovery begins we hope to bring knowledge and power to other families and children, just like ours.

{Reprinted with KIDsize Living express permission}

4 Comments Add yours

  1. N says:

    My heart breaks for them. And for my family. This happened to our family as well though it was the son of the daycare mother who sexually assaulted our daughter. Due to age of the son, not yet 10 yrs old, the police determine it as no criminal offense. The family daycare agency in turn has allowed children to be placed in care with the mother, and thus in proximity to her son, again. Never again will I trust family daycare.

    1. I’m so sorry for your family N. x

  2. Angela says:

    My heart breaks too, my girls go to FDC and we place so much trust in their family, I can’t stop thinking about this little girl and her family, what an utterly awful thing to happen and in a place of trust for her. It’s definitely making me second guess my decisions on FDC at the moment. Love to you and your Love Bug, I’m guessing this might be your “asteroid” xx

  3. What an unbelievably brave child, there really are now words but I am completely in awe of how brave that child is.

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