Child sexual abuse survivor Adam Kneale sues AFL club Western Bulldogs for damages

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Childhood sexual abuse survivor Adam Kneale has commenced legal action against the Western Bulldogs, lodging a Supreme Court writ seeking damages from the AFL club.

WARNING: This story contains descriptions of sexual abuse.

On May 1, an ABC Sport investigation revealed Kneale’s harrowing story of abuse at the hands of former Bulldogs fundraising manager and Under-19 room steward Graeme Hobbs, who subjected Kneale to horrific ordeals within the club’s offices and social club facilities at the Western Oval.

The abuse, which took place between 1984 and 1990 when the Bulldogs were known as Footscray Football Club, escalated to Hobbs exposing Kneale to a paedophile ring.

And the man described in court as the “ringleader” of those offenders, John Raymond Wayland, confirmed to ABC Sport that he’d briefly been a trainer at the Bulldogs and met Hobbs at the club.

Kneale’s lawyers, Rightside Legal, have lodged a writ seeking damages from the Western Bulldogs in the Supreme Court of Victoria.

Michael Magazanik, a partner with Rightside Legal, said in a press release that Kneale would “hold the Bulldogs to account for the years of abuse, which began when Adam was just 11 years old”.

Adam Kneale is the first known person to sue an AFL club for historical child abuse.(ABC News: Karen Percy/File)

“In 1993, when he was 21, Adam told his story to police, and Hobbs and another man were jailed,” Magazanik said.

“Despite local media reporting at the time, he has never had any support or contact from the club. Adam has lived with the consequences for nearly 30 years.

“Now he’s now going to focus on his family, his own mental health and his legal claim against the Western Bulldogs.

“Adam is the first person known to have sued an AFL club over child abuse, and is likely to be the first of many.

“AFL clubs are going to be forced to face up to their histories and deal with the survivors who are no longer children, but adults wanting justice and compensation for the terrible damage that was done to them.”

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