Les Bateman

Posted: October 17, 2012 by Serendipity in Location, NSW, Photo, Sentenced
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Clubs dump paedophile


26 Feb, 2012 03:00 AM

THE convicted paedophile Les Bateman will be stripped of his Canterbury Bulldogs rugby league life membership.

The Sun-Herald last week successfully fought for the NSW District Court to overturn a suppression order so it could report the imprisonment of Bateman, 64, almost 21 years after he sexually assaulted a boy he had met through his coaching of the Chester Hill Hornets. He was sentenced to five years’ jail.

The nature of Bateman’s crime angered many people in the Bankstown area who considered him to be a man who had earned their trust and respect.

The chief executive of the Bulldogs, Todd Greenberg, said Bateman would lose his life memberships of the Bulldogs, the Canterbury Junior Rugby League and Chester Hill Hornets at each of the respective associations’ next annual meeting.

”I think you can take it as read that all three [clubs] will strip him of his life memberships,” Mr Greenberg said.



For 30 years, they had a monster in their midst

February 19, 2012

A victim’s courage has sent a sex predator to jail after the truth was learnt about the revered footy coach and pillar of the community, writes Daniel Lane.

The rumour that Les Bateman was ”into boys” had been around the Canterbury-Bankstown Junior Rugby League for at least 30 years. It was whispered or joked about with a nudge and a wink but could not be proved. And for every detractor there was an army of supporters.

Some, including the Canterbury greats Terry Lamb, Geoff Robinson and Garry Hughes, were character witnesses at the trial that concluded this month with Bateman, 64, being jailed for five years. He had been found guilty of sexually assaulting a minor more than 20 years ago.

The footballers said Bateman deserved his reputation as a pillar in working-class Chester Hill, in Sydney’s south-west. He served the local league team, the Hornets, with such devotion the club wanted to name their scoreboard in his honour, but he declined, trained athletes for free, and from 1980 until 2009 filled roles for the Canterbury Bulldogs, including managing many junior representative teams, being the first grade side’s statistician and looking after the ball boys.

Bateman’s efforts were rewarded with life memberships of the Bulldogs, the junior league and the Hornets. He ran a leg of the Sydney Olympics torch relay and received a good citizenship certificate from Bankstown Council.

The now seemingly blind trust of his community was earned through his efforts in junior sport, which included driving boys to and from training and games.

The Hornets were a club divided from 2002 to 2007. New blood joined the committee and there were Bateman’s followers and his opponents, who believed he was manipulative and gained strength by targeting an individual’s weakness. They said his position at the Bulldogs, and friendship with Terry Lamb, was his attraction.

”He’d promise things,” a former Hornets official said. ”He’d get them to Canterbury, he’d do this, do that. I didn’t like the bloke but he had charisma. It’s amazing how a few nice words to people not used to them can gain their support. He knew the people to target – single-parent families – and he’d do things like drive their kids about. The Hornets was his world. Now he’s in prison his followers drop their heads and hide when we walk past. They’re embarrassed.”

Bateman’s reputation as a suspected paedophile meant managers of some Hornets teams never allowed a child to be left alone with him, especially when he assumed his annual role as the gear steward.

”He had to be a gear steward,” said the source. ”I was worried he did it because kids would change in front of him. The teams I was involved with had a rule: we went to the dressing room as a group and left as a group. No kid was left alone. Ever.”

A former Chester Hill official, Craig Rae, was also aware of the disturbing rumours. ”I first met Les Bateman when I played for Canterbury’s SG Ball team in 1982 when I was 14 and he was a selector,” Rae said.

”There were rumours he was a weirdo. People said he was into boys but how do you prove it?

”I know kids slept over at his house and he’d say they wanted to stay. It was strange. I’ve coached teams and never had a child want to stay at my house and I’d definitely never ask one to stay, either.”

In Parramatta District Court on February 9 Bateman was jailed for charges relating to the sexual assault, between January 16, 1989, and December 31, 1990, of a player who we will refer to as John because he was a minor at the time and cannot be named. According to Rae, Bateman’s case emphasised why ”vigilance, and not vigilantism” was required in all forms of junior sport.

John told police he trusted Bateman when, in 1985 or 1986, he first met him when he was about nine or 10. He considered him someone worthy of his respect. Under Bateman, John’s team won two premierships. It was significant because it brought a feeling of success that John had yet to experience.

He was impressed when his hero, a rugby league superstar, accepted Bateman’s invitation to attend one of their games. He couldn’t believe his favourite player addressed him and his teammates before kick-off.

In his early teens John went to Bateman’s home in Marks Street, Chester Hill, with his teammates to attend weight training sessions. The coach and his victim formed what must have appeared a healthy relationship because John’s parents allowed him to go to Bateman’s home to watch the footy on TV. He was eventually allowed to stay overnight.

Bateman plied John with alcohol before the first sexual assault in 1989. Nearly 21 years later, in 2010, in his 30s and father to a son, John would tell police, at the behest of the psychologist whom he had begun to consult, that was the first time he was affected by grog.

After four or five bottles of beer Bateman asked John whether he wanted a ”rub-down”. The boy agreed, knowing top-grade football players received massages to loosen up and treat injuries. Bateman applied a lubricant and after 15 minutes of massaging him, he asked: ”Do you want me to rub your old fella?”

”I didn’t know what this meant.

I had never heard this word used before,” John told police. ”I’m pretty sure I would have said ‘Yes’ to him. However, I’m not too sure what he was going to do. By this stage I was feeling affected by the alcohol.”

More assaults followed and in a similar pattern: the consumption of alcohol, the ”rub-down”, the sexual abuse. In time the acts became more brazen. Bateman once slept at the victim’s house because he couldn’t drive home after drinking too much at dinner with the boy’s family. As the family slept, Bateman crept into the boy’s room and woke him by fondling him. He urged the boy to keep quiet.

John said he felt waves of guilt when he would wake in the early hours after each episode at Bateman’s house. ”I would wake up regretting what I had done with him and just wanted to leave,” he told police. ”When I felt this way, I knew that what Les was doing to me was not right. However, it felt good at the time.”

John’s life spiralled out of control. He stopped playing football at 16, then took speed and heroin to suppress his memories. After he turned 18 he had engage in sexual acts with Bateman in return for alcohol and money. He did that until two years before he contacted police.

”I would usually use this money to support my drug habit,” he said. ”In a way, it was a means to me surviving.” Drugs, he noted in his witness impact statement, allowed him to cope with his past.”I couldn’t pick myself up at the time. I used drugs to forget about the abuse and it got to the point where I did quite a few things that I never thought I would do to get money to support my drug use. Later on I used him to also help pay for my drugs. I feel dirty.

”In terms of my childhood, up until the abuse starting, I recall it as being good. I never needed anything and it was a normal upbringing.

I had a loving home. My alcohol abuse and drug abuse started when the crimes started.”

He did not do well at school because he could not concentrate and was often in trouble with the law. When he heard rumours in 2008 about an allegation made by another footballer, John felt guilty and regretful and phoned police. ”I felt that it may have been my fault that other incidents may have happened to other children,” he told the police. ”I felt guilty that if I had said something earlier, this might not have happened to other children.”

Luci Mitchell, who was an official at the Hornets from 1999 to 2010, admitted she sometimes felt a ”dread” that one of her sons was appointed a Canterbury ball boy by Bateman. ”He’d select who he wanted, and more often than not it was parents pushing their kids to be a ball boy,” she said, wiping away tears. ”My son was sensible. Bateman made him a ball boy. I’ve questioned my son incessantly and he’s said nothing was ever implied, nothing happened. But, he came from a good, healthy family so there’s no way Les was going to go near him.

”I’m a single person and three or four years ago I’d go out on weekends and I’d chat to people at nightclubs. They’d sometimes ask what I did of a weekend. When I said I was involved with Chester Hill the first thing they’d ask was ‘Is that paedophile Les Bateman still there?’

”So I heard the innuendo but I formed my own opinion. He was a manipulative slimeball, a psycho.

I fear there’s other victims because Les Bateman would like to come across as someone who did good by these kids but he really took advantage of disadvantaged children. I admire the courage of the man who came forward.”

Bateman was arrested and charged on December 8, 2010. As part of his bail he could have nothing to do with junior football.

John said he had struggled during the trial when his past was laid bare. He said he had trouble trusting people and sleeping but the guilty verdict and Bateman’s imprisonment meant it felt as though he mattered.

Judge James Bennett sentenced Bateman in Parramatta District Court to five years’ jail with a non-parole period of two years and six months. Bateman appeared remorseful and scared when the sentence was delivered.

The Bulldogs will discuss stripping Bateman of his life membership at their annual meeting this month and the Canterbury junior league and the Hornets are expected to do the same. ”The Bulldogs Football Club are aware of the details relating to Les Bateman,” the chief executive, Todd Greenberg, said yesterday.


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