A woman at the centre of a civil trial against an Australian rules football legend has told a court she was prompted to report his alleged childhood sexual abuse of her after seeing a report about him on the ABC.
The woman, who can’t be identified for legal reasons, claims Barry Cable sexually abused her when she was a teenager, between 1968 and 1971, before sexually harassing her from 1974 to 1991.
Cable denies the allegations.
Taking the stand on the first of a five-day civil trial in Western Australia’s District Court on Wednesday, the woman said she first thought to report her allegations to police after seeing an Australian Story segment on Mr Cable in 1996.
But she said it would still take her two years to build up the courage to report the matter to police.
Barry Cable himself was a no-show on the first day of the trial, and may not appear in person at all.
The now 79-year-old has denied the allegations against him, and has never been charged by police.
The court heard at the start of proceedings Mr Cable’s son had emailed the court in January, asking for the matter to be adjourned until March.
Barry Cable did not front court on Wednesday, and it’s predicted he will not for the entire five-day trial. Picture: 7 News
But as neither he or his father were present in the courtroom to lodge an oral appeal, and lawyers for the plaintiff indicated they were ready to proceed without the defendant, Judge Mark Herron deemed the matter ready to go ahead.
Judge Herron remarked it was “surprising he would not appear today,” and “unlikely he will actively participate in these proceedings.”
Lawyer representing ZYX, as the woman is known in court documents, Tim Hammond outlined his evidence to be presented over coming days, before the plaintiff took the stand shortly before a lunch break.
Mr Hammond’s evidence of Mr Cable’s alleged abuse will include video statements from an overseas witness, and testimony from a number of psychologists and psychiatrists, some of whom have treated ZYX directly.
Mr Hammond said the experts will outline how the woman was diagnosed with chronic post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at the age of 15, two years into the alleged sexual abuse.
“There is significant lack of trauma in the plaintiff’s life,” Mr Hammond told the court on Wednesday.
“She breezes through primary school, but by the time she reaches high school her life takes a completely different trajectory.”
Mr Hammond will argue the alleged abuse drastically altered the trajectory of the woman’s life, claiming she now suffers “significant suicidal ideation, significant self-harm, eating disorders … bulimia, and a myriad of other symptoms.”
Lawyer for the plaintiff Tim Hammond enters court on Wednesday. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Anthony Anderson,
Prior to the lunch break, the plaintiff herself took to the stand, revealing she first got the idea to report the alleged abuse after seeing an Australian Story report on Barry Cable, but didn’t go to the police until 1998.
The woman detailed how she spent weeks giving a statement to Western Australian Police, the final report 68 pages and more than 300 paragraphs in length.
She became emotional while reading the 1998 statement to the court on Wednesday, detailing her upbringing and first alleged instances of grooming that preceded the abuse.
“He said he would ‘teach me’ because I was ‘special,’ his ‘big girl,’ that I’d ‘thank him for it one day,” she read from the statement.
“These talks would go on for months, his ‘training sessions’ he called them.
“Over time I would hate myself, I was scared, I would try and get away, run and hide.”
The case was put before the District Court in 2019, but the allegations only came to light on Tuesday when Judge Herron ruled a suppression order over Mr Cable’s identity be lifted.
The trial continues.