A brave university student who was groomed and raped by a predator he believed was helping cops catch other paedophiles has broken his silence over the sickening attack – to highlight the unfairness of a new Victorian law that would see victims such as himself jailed for speaking out.
Victoria has made it illegal for sexual assault victims to speak out publicly about their experiences – with anyone who does without obtaining a court order facing four months in prison or a fine of more than $3,000.
The law changes sparked widespread outrage, igniting the #LetUsSpeak campaign, a collaboration between Rape and Sexual Assault Research and Advocacy (RASARA), Marque Lawyers, End Rape On Campus Australia, and news.com.au.
In response to the outcry, the Victorian Government has announced it will ‘urgently fix’ the legislation.
That’s why Roan Dunstone, from Canberra, has decided to tell his story – in the hope the new law can be changed. Because stories like his deserve to be told.
The now 24-year-old was sexually abused by convicted paedophile Aaron James Holliday when he was just 13.
Ten years his senior, Holliday convinced Roan he was working alongside police to catch paedophiles and needed his help in the secret operation.
Roan Dunstone, 24, has come forward to share his experience of sexual abuse to shed light on the importance of victims rights and need to be able to tell their story to heal
Roan pictured as a young boy at his family’s home in Canberra. He would meet convicted paedophile Aaron James Holliday through another boy when he was 13
After gaining his trust he took the then teenager on adventures, slowly convincing him to undergo ‘training’ for the mission.
‘Training’ would involve performing real sex acts, with Holliday paying $50 per session, and recording at least one encounter on his laptop.
‘We would meet up regularly for “training”. He would pick me up down the street in his ute and take me to some bushland near home, or the rooftop above his apartment,’ Roan told Daily Mail Australia.
‘The first time I met him was at the shops and he got us ice cream.
‘There were multiple levels of manipulation, there were the rewards, lots self-inflating lies to increase his authority, and the fear instilled in me that speaking of the operation would be breaking the law.
‘He had convinced me of the story and the belief behind it. He had convinced me that what we were doing was okay.’
Roan (right) said sharing his experience of sexual abuse has helped him heal by helping others feel safe to come forward by destigmatising the sense of shame felt by survivors
The Judicial Proceedings Reports Act was changed in February in Victoria, prohibiting victims from identifying themselves publicly if their attacker has been found guilty.
The new law applies retrospectively, meaning victims who have lawfully spoken out previously are now censored from speaking out publicly. Media outlets who defy the law can also be prosecuted and face fines of up to $8,000.
Roan fears the gag law will prevent people from coming forward, especially those who may be abused by figures of authority.
‘I’ve never felt safe. I was crushed to see one Australian Government is no longer willing to give people the right to reach out to the public for help,’ he said.
‘I laid in bed and bawled my eyes out because the system that is meant to protect me was taking away my rights. It is an infringement of our rights as victims.
‘If we speak out, we are now criminals.’
Roan (pictured a year before the abuse) met by Aaron James Holliday through another boy when he was 13
Holliday convinced the youth he was part of an operation busting padeophiles and asked him to take part in ‘training’ which involved performing sex acts
The university student was 13 when he was introduced to Holliday through another boy in 2009.
Holliday was on bail for showing pornography to another boy – and was prohibited from interacting with children.
Roan’s months of abuse came to an end when two other boys reported their ordeals to police.
Pending conviction, Holliday contacted Roan and tried to deceive him into testifying with a fictitious narrative to help him escape the charges.
The 13-year-old was instructed to learn lines to recite in court, but he struck difficulty with the script and showed it to his brother seeking help.
When Holliday found out, he was filled with rage and threatened Roan by saying ‘I’ll make sure you never see the light of day again’.
Scared for his life, the brave teen opened up to his brother and a friend then was taken to report his abuse to police.
In November 2010, Holliday pleaded guilty to seven counts of sexual intercourse against the three underage boys and was sentenced to 16 years and six months in prison, a term reduced to eight years on appeal.
Holliday would take the young boy into bushland to conduct ‘training’ which involved performing sex acts. He is pictured around the time of the assaults
Holliday’s string of child sex offences dates back to 2007, when, while working as a male nanny, he was charged for possessing more than 50,000 images of child material on his computer.
The material ranged from erotic images of children to hardcore child pornography and bestiality.
Over the next three years, his crimes would escalate into sexual assault.
WHY WAS THE LAW CHANGED?
The Open Courts and Other Acts Amendment Act 2019, which commenced in February this year, allowed victims of sexual or family violence to apply to courts to lift bans on publishing material that would reveal their identity.
Before the 2019 amendments, victims did not have a clear mechanism to seek the removal of court orders protecting their identity, which caused uncertainty for those who wished to speak openly about their experiences.
But the consequence is that it is now an offence to speak out without court permission – even if the victim consents – in cases where the offender is guilty or proceedings are ongoing.
A spokesman for Daniel Andrews referred Daily Mail Australia to Attorney-general Jill Hennesy.
She said: ‘The changes that took effect in February were about reducing barriers and improving clarity for victims who want to talk about their experiences, not about introducing new restrictions for survivors who want to go public with their story.
‘I am aware of the concerns raised by victims and advocacy groups regarding the effect of these reforms and have asked the Department of Justice and Community Safety to urgently look at whether further changes are needed to ensure they are effective’.
When Roan first opened up via Facebook about his devastating experience two years ago, it offered him healing as he realised telling his story could help others.
‘It was so empowering,’ Roan recalled.
‘It had a cascading effect, when I came out a whole bunch of other people started sharing their stories. I had multiple people message me in private.
‘It makes you realise how many others have felt the same way you have.
‘Connecting with people who had been through similar traumas and seeing them grow into the beautiful humans has given me much hope.’
Ever since, the 24-year-old has been speaking out to bring light to issues of sexual abuse in hopes of destigmatising the sense of ‘shame’ felt by survivors.
With stories censored, he fears victims will feel isolated and will be deterred from reporting their abuse.
Roan still grapples with the pain of his horrific abuse, particularly how he was manipulated into giving consent.
If you or someone you know is experiencing sexual abuse or family violence contact 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732
For confidential support contact Lifeline on 13 11 14
Roan said he feels extremely fortune to be surrounded by supportive friends and family that have helped him in his healing process. He is pictured with his girlfriend Jazz
Roan said: ‘I was terrified, if I wasn’t in fear for my life, if I didn’t have my brother there to reach out to, I doubt I would have had come forward’. He is pictured with friends
Roan went public with his experience in a Facebook post in 2018, which was an integral part of his healing process